Dimagi - web

Exploring new opportunities in healthcare delivery using mobile phones

US-based social enterprise Dimagi’s software improves healthcare for the underserved in 30 developing countries. In studying users in four sites across South Africa, our team aimed to equip Dimagi to shift from providing its technology to enterprise partners to a new approach fueled by end-user demand. A pull model could enable Dimagi to innovate and better respond to community health workers’ needs, creating a virtuous cycle of user-driven technology adoption.

CommCare, Dimagi’s lauded technology platform, allowed frontline health care workers to easily collect data and track clients and organizations. In 2014, Dimagi was interested in exploring features focused on empowering the community health worker, such as electronic payments, educational tools, and literacy applications, as a means of generating demand amongst CommCare’s frontline users. At the same time, the organization was looking to expand upon the idea of performance-based contracting, whereby Dimagi’s deliverables and services would be tied to specific impact-based milestones.


The GlobalHealth Lab student team analyzed trends in mobile technology in the developing world, then interviewed over 60 individuals in four South African provinces and collaborated with three partner organizations to identify unmet needs and new trends. Through their research, students concluded that the biggest constraint in greater implementation of mobile health technology was often not money or even equipment or infrastructure, but perceived ease of use, offering useful input for Dimagi’s growth strategies. They also provided the organization with suggestions for how games could be used in training and to elicit user feedback.