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Implementing Solutions

Novel Measurement for Performance Improvement Challenge

How might we use unconventional methods to measure the improvement of primary health care performance in low- and middle-income countries?

Submissions are Closed

Challenge Overview

The Opportunity

MIT Solve, in collaboration with The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, seeks solutions that will offer new ways of measuring primary health care performance improvement in low- and middle-income countries. To that end, this Challenge seeks novel and improved methods that:

  • Employ unconventional or proxy data sources to inform primary health care performance improvement;

  • Provide improved measurement methods that are low cost, fit-for-purpose, shareable across information systems, and streamlined for data collectors;

  • Leverage existing systems, networks, and workflows to streamline the collection and interpretation of data to support meaningful use of primary health care data;

  • Provide actionable, accountable, and accessible insights for health care providers, administrators, and/or funders that can be used to optimize the performance of primary health care; and

  • Balance the opportunity for frontline health workers to participate in performance improvement efforts with their primary responsibility as care providers.

This Challenge seeks solutions that stand to advance the way that primary health care performance improvement happens in low- and middle-income countries. In order to ensure that selected solutions are appropriate and practical for use in these countries, the Challenge does not seek solutions that:

  • Require a high level of connectivity or bandwidth;

  • Have been primarily designed for use in high-income countries; and/or

  • Focus only on data collection. 

The Context

Primary health care is a cornerstone of health care systems across the globe. The majority of a person’s health needs—physical, mental, and social—are addressed by primary health care. Primary health care attends not only to individuals and families but also to the overall well-being of communities and their populations.

Despite its foundational role in communities everywhere, primary health care remains out of reach for millions of people, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. Barriers such as high cost, lack of access, insufficient availability, and inconsistent quality of care hold back people from living healthy and productive lives. 

Improvements to primary health care are already happening in transformational ways: people are living longer; funding and incentives for high-quality care are on the rise; training and development for health care workers has renewed focus; and access to preventive health care and immunizations are improving patient health outcomes.

While performance improvement systems vary around the world, key indicators for measuring primary health care performance improvement are on hand. Despite having strong measurement standards, limitations in how performance measurement occurs are common. These include:

  • Lack of comprehensive vision and purpose for data collection;

  • Poor quality or impractical data;

  • Measurement that primarily informs funders rather than practical performance improvements;

  • Inconsistent connectivity and adoption of real-time digital tools;

  • Information or data systems that do not communicate with others;

  • Burden of data collection being borne by frontline health workers; and

  • Systems lack feedback mechanisms for data collectors themselves.

For progress to continue, diverse health care stakeholders, including patients, frontline health workers, policymakers, and everyone in between, need the means to understand what’s working well and where further improvements are needed. While key indicators to measure the improvement of primary health care performance already exist, improvements and innovation are still urgently needed.  

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Accepting Solutions

  • Challenge Open
  • Deadline to Submit

Evaluating Solutions

  • Round 3: Judges Select Winners
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