Dr. SMS: introducing healthcare through mobile technology in Kerala

An innovative mobile governance initiative, Dr SMS was launched by the Kerala State IT Mission in 2008 with the aim to improve people’s access to health care related information through the innovative use of mobile telephones.

Source: OneWorld South Asia

One of the primary challenges that restricts people’s utilisation of medical services is the lack of reliable and easily available information related healthcare services in their locality. Recognising this problem, the Kerala State IT Mission (KSITM), the technology implementation wing of the Government of Kerala in India, launched Dr. SMS in May 2008 as a pilot project in its Kozhikode district. Drs SMS is an m-health project that was initiated to improve the health of the citizens of Kerala by delivering timely and authentic information on health related resources via short message service (SMS).

The primary objective of this project is to make information on medical and diagnostic facilities accessible and to provide alerts about emerging diseases through mobile phones. To avail this service, users have to send their query in a preformatted fashion via SMS to a unique short code number 537252. Within a few seconds, they get a reply with the desired information. Since the SMS charges are very nominal, everyone who owns a phone with the feature is able benefit from this service.

Other than the SMS channel, a web portal,  www.drsms.kerala.gov.in, has also been created for delivering similar information. After a year, Dr. SMS was launched across the state. On average, this service gets used 200 times a day.

This case study was published in July 2012. 

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