A draft of India’s National Health Policy reports that more than 63 million people struggle with poverty each year due solely to health care costs, which saddle Indians with “catastrophic” expenses. In a health care system where public facilities are burdened beyond capacity, under-equipped, underfunded and understaffed with skilled personnel, an alternative to numerous hospital or clinic visits is vital.

Noora Health, a nonprofit serving impoverished communities in India, recognizes this fact. Using digital technology and in-person training, Noora Health seeks to provide marginalized families with the skills necessary to care for patients at home post-procedure, lowering the rate of preventable re-admissions and simultaneously cutting health care costs.

The organization has partnered with low-income area hospitals in India to provide training to some 7,000 families and patients, empowering impoverished families to care for patients and aid in recovery.

Noora Health uses both digital and in-person training methods, utilizing video-based lessons to teach the family members basic physical therapy, promote proper dietary and lifestyle choices, and recognize warning signs of medical emergencies.

By way of digital education technology, patients and family members can access personalized, disease-specific information. Through a tablet application, Noora Health also offers quizzes and interactive content to supplement teaching videos and in-person instruction.

“We cut out repetitive, generalized, scattered information from the workflow of doctors and nurses, freeing up more time to have meaningful, patient-specific discussions,” the Noora Health website states.

In addition to freeing up doctors’ time to treat other patients, Noora Health’s educational program allows patients and family members to claim authority and responsibility for their own recovery.

People of developing countries, especially those living in small villages, may have little access to health care education, yet high costs may drive them to avoid frequent hospital or clinic visits. However, without proper training, family members lack the necessary skill sets to care for loved ones post-procedure.

“Patients and caregivers don’t ever go through a training course like CPR, yet are being put in these very scary situations post-surgery,” said Noora Health co-founder Edith Elliot.

Through engaging, skill-based educational content, Noora Health is working to teach marginalized Indians to handle these situations in a safe, efficient manner.

Since its launch in 2012, Noora Health has helped create a 36 percent reduction in complications and reduce the readmission of open-heart surgery patients by 22 percent. The organization also notes that 89 percent of caregivers trained by Noora Health feel more confident in their ability to treat for their loved ones and 98 percent of Noora Health’s digital tools users recommend the program.

The organization’s efforts have not gone unnoticed. Elliot and co-founder Katie Ashe were recently named 2015 Echoing Green Fellows, providing their organization with additional funds to grow and expand coverage to reach other marginalized people. Building on their success in improving health care in India, Elliot and Ashe hope to extend Noora Health to impoverished areas of the United States.

Emma-Claire LaSaine

Sources: Tech Crunch, USAID, Noora Health, Echoing Green, Times of India
Photo: Incredible India