JMIR mHealth and uHealth (Oct 2020)

Costing and Cost-Effectiveness of a Mobile Health Intervention (ImTeCHO) in Improving Infant Mortality in Tribal Areas of Gujarat, India: Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial

  • Modi, Dhiren,
  • Saha, Somen,
  • Vaghela, Prakash,
  • Dave, Kapilkumar,
  • Anand, Ankit,
  • Desai, Shrey,
  • Shah, Pankaj

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 8, no. 10
p. e17066


Read online

BackgroundDuring 2013, a mobile health (mHealth) program, Innovative Mobile Technology for Community Health Operation (ImTeCHO), was launched in predominantly tribal and rural communities of Gujarat, India. ImTeCHO was developed as a job aid for Accredited Social Health Activists (ASHAs) and staff of primary health centers to increase coverage of maternal, neonatal, and child health care. ObjectiveIn this study, we assessed the incremental cost per life-years saved as a result of the ImTeCHO intervention as compared to routine maternal, neonatal, and child health care programs. MethodsA two-arm, parallel, stratified cluster randomized trial with 11 clusters (primary health centers) randomly allocated to the intervention (280 ASHAs, n=2,34,134) and control (281 ASHAs, n=2,42,809) arms was initiated in 2015 in a predominantly tribal and rural community of Gujarat. A system of surveillance assessed all live births and infant deaths in the intervention and control areas. All costs, including those required during the start-up and implementation phases, were estimated from a program perspective. Incremental cost-effectiveness ratios were estimated by dividing the incremental cost of the intervention with the number of deaths averted to estimate the cost per infant death averted. This was further analyzed to estimate the cost per life-years saved for the purpose of comparability. Sensitivity analysis was undertaken to account for parameter uncertainties. ResultsOut of a total of 5754 live births (3014 in the intervention arm, 2740 in the control arm) reported in the study area, per protocol analysis showed that the implementation of ImTeCHO resulted in saving 11 infant deaths per 1000 live births in the study area at an annual incremental cost of US $163,841, which is equivalent to US $54,360 per 1000 live births. Overall, ImTeCHO is a cost-effective intervention from a program perspective at an incremental cost of US $74 per life-years saved or US $5057 per death averted. In a realistic environment with district scale-up, the program is expected to become even more cost-effective. ConclusionsOverall, the findings of our study strongly suggest that the mHealth intervention as part of the ImTeCHO program is cost-effective and should be considered for replication elsewhere in India. Trial RegistrationClinical Trials Registry of India CTRI/2015/06/005847;,%2711820det%27