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PATH is the leader in global health innovation. We are driven by an unshakeable commitment to health equity and a bold belief in the power of innovation to improve health, save lives, and transform the future, especially for women and children. Working with partners across the public and private sectors, our trusted experts bring together the right tools and people at the right time and place to accelerate innovative solutions to the health challenges facing vulnerable women, children, and communities worldwide. By tenaciously supporting solutions all the way from early concept to large-scale use, PATH’s work translates smart ideas into tangible change for millions of people.
Describe the problem you needed to solve:
In Africa, malaria is the leading cause of death in young children. For the past decade, the Zambian National Ministry of Health and the National Malaria Elimination Centre (NMEC) with support from PATH have used data to fight malaria—saving thousands of lives. In 2015, PATH teamed up with Alteryx and six other technology partners to launch Visualize No Malaria—a campaign focused on integrating new tools and systems for data use to support Zambia’s Ministry of Health in their effort to eliminate malaria by 2021.
The PATH-supported malaria laboratory in Lusaka, Zambia, located at the NMEC is implementing a range of molecular tools in the quest to achieve elimination. Every month, thousands of blood samples from around the country are processed to answer key questions around issues such as diagnostic efficacy, drug resistance, and transmission intensity.
Prior to our partnership with Alteryx, the lab was ill equipped to deal with these data. At the time, our laboratory information system was costly, cumbersome and necessitated building a custom database for each study. We needed a flexible, agile tool that could grow with our needs, namely, a system that would provide a simple mechanism for reporting data, aggregating it, and producing summary outputs.
Describe the working solution:
Alteryx software has transformed how we access data. As we experimented with Alteryx, it quickly became apparent that we could almost instantly curate, process, and archive large amounts of data to inform our field activities and to better understand what’s really happening with malaria transmission patterns and dynamics in near real-time.
Our partnership will empower frontline health workers with the critical tools to prevent, track, and treat malaria cases to help eliminate this deadly disease. We are improving data accuracy and making real-time critical data-informed decisions about how and where to tackle outbreaks. We are also building the skills of district and facility health teams to combat the disease at community level. If successful, this model could serve to inform global efforts to end malaria for good.
PATH and its data science partners are using Alteryx in a number of ways to help lead the charge toward elimination including:
1. Automating workflows that help us process lab results and notify health workers of positive malaria cases faster in targeted study sites.
Prior to the introduction of Alteryx, we essentially were unable to provide feedback on results in any meaningful way. Now instead of waiting months, we can process results on a daily basis with automated outputs sent to the end-user for dissemination and to inform decisions.
2. Responding to survey data during field data collection.
Survey data is usually evaluated at the end of the process, which is fine if everything has gone well, but potentially catastrophic if errors were introduced. Through Alteryx, we have been able to access survey data as it is collected through a cloud API and then validate and summarize data to ensure that we are on track. The speed of this process meant that we were able to not only identify and resolve issues during the survey, but could rapidly and iteratively interrogate the data to ensure high data quality.
3.Developing a workflow to enable automated prediction and forecasting of malaria cases in the Southern Province of Zambia that can be batched on a weekly schedule.
4. Leveraging Alteryx for geospatial data processing and analysis to create modeled boundaries such as facility catchment areas, entity relationship, and resource optimization diagrams, such as health worker to Facility network diagrams, and input layers for other geographic processing and rendering tools, such as Mapbox.
5. Pre-processing and merging of geospatial and epidemiological data for ease of use in front end rendering and analytic tools, such as Tableau.
Describe the benefits you have achieved:
The net result from this work has been a more efficient workflow process, more insightful analyses, and the development of a more holistic approach to understanding the complete malaria picture in Southern Province. Alteryx put the power in the hands of the user so we can build exactly what we need when we need it.
Since deployment of these tools, along with a number of strategies to further accelerate the gains against malaria, since 2014 there has been a 90 percent decrease in malaria cases in the Southern Province. As transmission rates decrease and malaria cases become increasingly localized, combining the existing interventions with capabilities of data analytics tools like Alteryx will play an essential role in combating the disease at the community level and bringing the number of cases to zero.