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Automated verbal autopsy

IT systems for automated verbal autopsy

The implementation of automated VA requires a number of IT components in order to maximise the information coming from VA interviews. These different IT components need to be considered during the planning for integration of routine VA into the CRVS system.

  1. Handheld devices, such as tablets or smartphones that support the selected electronic data collection platform are required to collect VA data. VA interviewers need to have easy access to mobile devices to perform this function. To improve efficiency tablets used in other health service applications may be used. An electronic data collection platform needs to be installed and the questionnaire uploaded on to the handheld device. Currently, both the WHO 2016 and SmartVA use the ODK platform (see below) but other platforms can be used. 
  2. Open Data Kit platform is used to collect and manage VA data (see figure below). ODK Collect (tool to upload forms and complete data collection) needs to be installed on the tablet to enable mobile VA data collection. This information can be sent via a mobile or wireless network to an ODK Aggregate (medium to see collected data) server where information is collated and stored. VA information can also be manually uploaded via the ODK Briefcase (tool that allows forms to be stored on an offline device) application on a local computer by plugging in the Android mobile device. Once established through local set-up, ODK Aggregate can communicate with both the tablet and the local computer.
  3. Cause of death analysis using automated methods can be done in batches by downloading data from the ODK aggregate site and processing through the computer algorithm software. Development of automation of these processes is ongoing, so that in future data collected and uploaded to the ODK aggregate server from different parts of the country can be automatically and routinely processed at the central level to assign an underlying cause for these deaths.
  4. Integration of VA cause of death data into existing civil registration or health information systems is the best way to ensure routinely collected VA data are being used in national statistics and health programming.

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