Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a leading cause of death in Argentina where death rates have continued to rise along with risk factors for CVD. Challenges to control in low- and middle income countries (LMIC) include low awareness, shortages of trained health care workers, overcrowded primary care centers (PCCs), and overall lack of resources in health care systems. Determining ways to increase screening in community settings and efficient referral to PCCs is a significant priority in reducing the CVD burden in Argentina. Previous work funded by the NIH shows that effective low-cost screening tools are available, CHWs can be trained to use a validated, simple non-lab based screening tool in communities to identify those at high CVD risk, and use of a mobile phone application for this tool reduced both the cost of training and screening time for CHWs. What has not been shown is whether persons at high risk for CVD can be appropriately referred for proper evaluation, treatment, and effective management of CVD at the PCCs. The Ministry of Health in Argentina has instituted an incentive system through the REDES Program that has the goal of increasing the number of uninsured who are at high risk for CVD are screened, identified, referred, and provided with appropriate care and treatment with essential diagnostics and medicines. We propose to develop a mHealth tool that integrates the cell phone application for the risk screening tool to be wirelessly and directly connected with the electronic scheduling systems at PCCs. This will allow CHWs to access the appointment scheduling system at the government clinics, allowing them to make appointments for the identified high-risk individuals at the time of screening to increase the number of referral and follow-up visits that these individuals attend. This integrated scheduling system will allow for SMS messaging to be used to remind patients of their appointments and to schedule follow- up care. Finally, the system will be integrated with the electronic record system at the PCC so that ongoing monitoring and evaluation of the program can be implemented. We proposed a pragmatic cluster randomized trial in which individual PCCs will be randomized to either to use of the integrated mHealth tool, or usual screening procedures using existing paper based screening. The objectives will be to determine if use of the mHealth tool increases the number of high-risk persons who show up for the referral visits, if it increases the rate of subsequent follow-up care visits for the referred persns, and the cost-effectiveness of the intervention.

Public Health Relevance

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) accounts for approximately one-third of Argentina's deaths. Despite the availability of management and treatment for CVD which is offered to the uninsured population at government primary care clinics (PCCs), the rates at which those at risk are screened, identified and referred to the clinics are very low. Thi study will determine if providing CHWs with an mHealth application using an integrated, inexpensive and validated screening tool on cell phones for screening in the community which is linked with the PCC scheduling system wirelessly allowing the CHWs to make appointments at the time they identify high-risk individuals, will increase the number of referral and follow-up visits that patients attend at the PCCs.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Fogarty International Center (FIC)
Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRG1)
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Povlich, Laura
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Brigham and Women's Hospital
United States
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