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A female physical therapist helps a male patient sitting in a wheelchair through a rehabilitation exercise in Vietnam using a mobile app
Vietnam

Humanity & Inclusion develops remote rehabilitation software

Humanity & Inclusion has launched OpenTeleRehab, a new innovative software specifically designed by its experts to provide quality rehabilitation services for isolated populations. The software opens first in Vietnam, with plans to expand to other countries.

In Vietnam, more than 64% of the population live in rural areas, significantly limiting access to rehabilitation care. This is particularly true for people with disabilities for whom traveling long distances can be challenging. There are fewer than one physical therapist per 10,000 people in Vietnam, and only 2% of Vietnamese children receive rehabilitation care when needed.

By contrast, 80% of the population uses a smartphone and 4G coverage is at 95%. Even families with low incomes typically have access to a mobile device. With its background in innovative humanitarian response and rehabilitation expertise, Humanity & Inclusion designed the OpenTeleRehab software as an adaptive solution to ensure both access to and quality of care for patients who need rehabilitation.

The software with developed in partnership with hospitals in Vietnam and JAMK University. Its development was funded by USAID and the Botnar Foundation.

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Custom care, accessible to all

“The application will provide remote rehabilitation services, increasing access to care in contexts where the rehabilitation workforce is limited,” says Martin Jacobs, Humanity & Inclusion rehabilitation technical advisor and OpenTeleRehab project manager. “Patients are taught in service by their therapist how to use the patient mobile application, then, once they are home, they can access their custom treatment plan by smartphone. The treatment plan can include exercises, information, educational material and questionnaires. Therapists can organize regular follow-up audio or video calls and track patient progress and adherence to the plan.” Read a full Q&A with Jacobs about this software launch.

OpenTeleRehab aims to increase access to rehabilitation services by strengthening hospital discharge, transition of care and community-based follow-up. It should help prevent repeat hospital stays for people with long-term needs, lower patient costs, optimize functioning and reduce obstacles for individuals with disabilities in central Vietnam. Its offline features ensure that it can easily be used in contexts with limited internet access, and a child-friendly version of the patient mobile app increases engagement among young users.

Implementation and next steps

The initial OpenTeleRehab launch will be piloted in two provinces of Vietnam, serving 550 direct patients and their families. Tablets will be distributed to families if they are unable to access a mobile device. After its initial release, Humanity & Inclusion plans to further develop its services and eventually expand its use.

“The next steps will be to increase the number of exercises in the library, and to translate it to different languages,” Jacobs explains. “We will then be able to deploy the software in different countries and different contexts.”

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