Pocket-Sized Healthcare

by Chris Purdy, PSI

Five billion people across the world have a phone in their pocket.

And in Sub-Saharan Africa alone, over half of the population is expected to own a phone by 2025. Consumers use their phones to connect to everything, whether it’s their families, friends, bank accounts or simply their next ride. So why not use this connection for healthcare?

Putting healthcare in the palm of the client’s hand, PSI invests in technology that goes beyond traditional behavior change approaches to reach consumers. Our new initiative, called Connecting with Sara, named for the archetype of our target audience, aims to leverage technology to better engage and learn from users throughout their lives as health care consumers.

Connecting with Sara is a platform to track and engage with clients through their mobile phones. Using phone calls, text messages and social media, PSI can use Connecting with Sara to link her to care, provide her with relevant health information, and follow her through the continuum of care. Under Connecting with Sara, PSI has created a new mobile app to enable community health workers to better follow-up with consumers and refer them to health services. The app is currently being used in Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

The Connecting with Sara app is just the beginning. PSI is also working on mobile client-satisfaction surveys, chat bots to support online counselors, and apps that allow clients to self-refer themselves to services, rather than having to wait to meet with a community health worker.

Mobile technology allows clients to participate more intimately in their own healthcare, putting care and control directly in consumers’ hands.


First, a Community Health Worker (CHW) meets with a client, creates a unique identifier code to protect her identity and asks permission to contact her about health services in the future. The CHW then sends an electronic voucher to the client’s phone via SMS or creates a paper voucher for those that don’t have a mobile device.







After issuing a voucher, the CHW later reviews the list of clients with whom to follow-up. The CHW can call or text clients reminders about upcoming appointments.








The client takes her voucher to a provider, where it is redeemed electronically and then displayed in the CHW’s app as a completed referral. CHWs check their performance in the app, which their manager can also follow from the local PSI office using DHIS2, PSI’s health management information system.







Information stored in the app is collected, managed and analyzed in DHIS2.









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The Future of Work

With overarching commitments to flexibility in our work, and greater wellbeing for our employees, we want to ensure PSI is positioned for success with a global and holistic view of talent. Under our new “work from (almost) anywhere,” or “WFAA” philosophy, we are making the necessary investments to be an employer of record in more than half of U.S. states, and consider the U.S. as one single labor market for salary purposes. Globally, we recognize the need to compete for talent everywhere; we maintain a talent center in Nairobi and a mini-hub in Abidjan. PSI also already works with our Dutch-based European partner, PSI Europe, and we’re creating a virtual talent center in the UK.


Meaningful Youth Engagement

PSI is firmly committed to the meaningful engagement of young people in our work. As signatories of the Global Consensus Statement on Meaningful Adolescent & Youth Engagement, PSI affirms that young people have a fundamental right to actively and meaningfully engage in all matters that affect their lives. PSI’s commitments aim to serve and partner with diverse young people from 10-24 years, and we have prioritized ethics and integrity in our approach. Read more about our commitments to the three core principles of respect, justice and Do No Harm in the Commitment to Ethics in Youth-Powered Design. And read more about how we are bringing our words to action in our ICPD+25 commitment, Elevating Youth Voices, Building Youth Skills for Health Design.


Zero Tolerance for Modern-Day Slavery and Human Trafficking

PSI works to ensure that its operations and supply chains are free from slavery and human trafficking. Read more about this commitment in our policy statement, endorsed by the PSI Board of Directors.



Since 2017, PSI has been a signatory to the United Nations Global Compact, a commitment to align strategies and operations with universal principles of human rights, labor, environment and anti-corruption. Read about PSI’s commitment to the UN Global Compact here.


Environmental Sustainability

The health of PSI’s consumers is inextricably linked to the health of our planet. That’s why we’ve joined the Climate Accountability in Development as part of our commitment to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2030. Read about our commitment to environmental sustainability.


Affirmative Action and Equal Employment Opportunity

PSI does not discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, age, marital status, genetic information, disability, protected veteran status or any other classification protected by applicable federal, state or local law. Read our full affirmative action and equal employment opportunity policy here.


Zero Tolerance for Discrimination and Harassment

PSI is committed to establishing and maintaining a work environment that fosters harmonious, productive working relationships and encourages mutual respect among team members. Read our policy against discrimination and harassment here.

PSI is committed to serving all health consumers with respect, and strives for the highest standards of ethical behavior. PSI is dedicated to complying with the letter and spirit of all laws, regulations and contractual obligations to which it is subject, and to ensuring that all funds with which it is entrusted are used to achieve maximum impact on its programs. PSI provides exceptionally strong financial, operational and program management systems to ensure rigorous internal controls are in place to prevent and detect fraud, waste and abuse and ensure compliance with the highest standards. Essential to this commitment is protecting the safety and well-being of our program consumers, including the most vulnerable, such as women and children. PSI maintains zero tolerance for child abuse, sexual abuse, or exploitative acts or threats by our employees, consultants, volunteers or anyone associated with the delivery of our programs and services, and takes seriously all complaints of misconduct brought to our attention.


Diversity and Inclusion

PSI affirms its commitment to diversity and believes that when people feel respected and included they can be more honest, collaborative and successful. We believe that everyone deserves respect and equal treatment regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, cultural background or religious beliefs. Read our commitment to diversity and inclusion here. Plus, we’ve signed the CREED Pledge for Racial and Ethnic Equity. Learn more.


Gender Equality

PSI affirms gender equality is a universal human right and the achievement of it is essential to PSI’s mission. Read about our commitment to gender equality here.


01 #PeoplePowered

02 Breaking Taboos

03 Moving Care Closer to Consumers

04 Innovating on Investments

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