DNDi tests SIMplicity to boost connectivity for clinical data sharing

The Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi), a not-for-profit research and development organization, is piloting SIMplicity, a global SIM service designed by FIND, to support clinical trial operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). SIMs are small cards containing chips that are used in mobile phones and other connected devices to transmit data over the internet in a secure manner.

DNDis using the global SIM cards to create portable Wi-Fi zones to enable the secure sharing of clinical data in remote locations where connectivity is unreliable. Powered by cross-border mobile network operator Telecom26 AG, SIMplicity provides cost-effective and dependable mobile data capabilities for diagnostics and other connected healthcare devices, via global SIM cards. Where a global system for mobile communications (GSM) is available, the SIM cards are a less expensive alternative to putting satellite dishes at clinical trial sites to transmit data.

“This is a great example of product development partnerships (PDPs) working together to record and track disease diagnoses in remote and low-resource areas,” said Pascal Carpentier, Head of Information Systems and Technology at DNDi. “FIND faces similar challenges to DNDin transmitting data to and from places with limited connectivity, and we are benefiting from this new product that is in a nascent phase, while providing them with valuable information to help refine the service.”

The digital connectivity service, which was launched last year and specifically designed to support global health partners, is part of FIND’s commitment to developing and expanding access to connected diagnostic tools for poverty-related diseases. Healthcare programmes using locally purchased, pay-as-you-go SIM cards for connectivity in low- and middle-income countries may face issues such as deactivation, managing multiple subscriptions, and a lack of quality assurance and reporting mechanisms.

“This product gives us an immediate global answer to connectivity and we are looking at using it at additional clinical sites in Uganda and Guinea,” Mr Carpentier said.