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These Are Our Partners

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There is no way we could do what we do alone.We strategically partner with telecom companies and vital organizations within countries’ health systems to build our networks efficiently, and with scale.

Since 2008, we have been working alongside the Ghana Medical Association as cofounders of the MDNet program. The GMA is at the center point for MDNet (also known as MDNet Medicareline in Ghana) as they advocate for Ghana’s doctors everyday.


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Before leading Switchboard, Eric was the Executive Vice President, COO & Co-Founder of EconoMEDics, a medical device start-up that designed a rugged, low-cost, power-generating pulse oximeter for the developing world. With a degree in Bioengineering from UC San Diego and a term as an engineering Project Manager at the medical device company DJO, Eric is now happy to label himself as a social entrepreneur. Eric was named one of the Top 11 Innovators in mHealth in 2011 and Rainer Arnhold Fellow in 2012.

Craig moved to San Francisco after completing a Masters in International Development from Harvard’s Kennedy School. Craig is the go-to development guru, with years of experience working with development organizations from Ecuador to India to Africa and the federal government in Washington. He also holds a degree, summa cum laude, in Environmental Systems from UC San Diego, and can’t help but move on the dance floor.
Steve Selzer – Chief Creative Officer
Steve is a senior interaction designer at frog in San Francisco. He consults and collaborates with individuals and organizations to imagine and create new products, services, strategies, and social value. He leads Switchboard’s design process—from research to ideation to implementation. He holds a Masters degree in Human-Computer Interaction from Carnegie Mellon and has an insatiable appetite for desserts.

A pioneer of the MDNet program in Ghana, Brian is currently completing his residency in OBGYN at Columbia University. Brian received his M.D. and a Masters from NYU’s School of Medicine in 2008 and graduated cum laude from Cornell University with a B.S. in Biology. A native of Babylon, Long Island, Brian’s peers affectionately call him the
“Mayor of NYU” – shaking hands and delivering babies.

Joe O’Neill is a board certified Internist and is the Director of Global Health Initiatives at the University of Maryland. He previously served as the only physician on the White House Domestic Policy Council and was credited as the ”architect” of PEPFAR, the White House HIV/AIDS program – the largest global health initiative in history (now $48 billion). He was also the President and CEO of Orchestra Therapeutics, a San Diego biotechnology company. Dr. O’Neill holds degrees in Business Administration, Public Health, Health Sciences, and Medicine from UC Berkeley and San Francisco.



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Health System Partners

Ghana Medical Association (GMA)
Ghana Ministry of Health
Ghana Health Service
Ghana Medical and Dental Council


Liberia Medical & Dental Association (LMDA)
Liberia Medical & Dental Council
Liberian Ministry of Health & Social Welfare


Tanzania Ministry of Health & Social Welfare (MOHSW)
Medical Association of Tanzania (MAT)


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Due to resource constraints in most African countries, very small numbers of health workers care for large populations. While there is one doctor for every 457 people in the United States, a doctor in Tanzania is responsible for more than 18,000 people.

With doctor shortages, nurses or clinical officers are often left alone to serve in rural clinics. These isolated health workers must provide care for 5,000 to 150,000 people, but have only 3 years of post-high school training. They are expected to diagnose complex patient cases, perform emergency procedures with only basic equipment, and deal with disease outbreaks when alerts or lab results take as long as two months to reach them.

While the health system has a wealth of information to share, it’s centered with practitioners and organizations in urban areas. Although rural health workers have their own basic mobile phones, access to information remains difficult. Not only are calls expensive, but clinicians and governments don’t even have mobile contact info for most health workers in the country.

Switchboard Considered for Rockefeller Foundation’s Next Century Innovator Awards

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Switchboard is honored to be considered for one of the Rockefeller Foundation’s Next Century Innovator Awards and is currently 1 of 25 still in the running. The awards are given to innovators whose work is improving the lot of poor and vulnerable people. Switchboard is being considered for its solution to create Free Calling Networks to Strengthen Health Systems currently running in Ghana, Liberia and recently launched in Tanzania.


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Interested in joining our team? We’re always on the lookout for passionate software developers, mobile health experts, PR gurus, and web designers. Local San Francisco talent is preferred. Send a resume to


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MDNet is a nationwide network of health professionals in developing countries, utilizing even the most basic mobile phones.


Health professionals better collaborate when they can communicate freely, find others for support, and interact with their government. So, we’ve built three components with MDNet.

Nearly 100% of physicians working in Ghana and Liberia are connected, with over 3 million calls made so far between doctors.

And we have a business model that makes us scale. Doctor-to-doctor calls are free, but calls made outside of the physician network are charged normally, generating substantial revenues for our telecom partners. We’ve brought $1.3 million in revenue to Vodafone Ghana so far. Telecoms win, health systems win.

We’re making it easier for health professionals to collaborate. The more they do, the better patients are served.

Dr Islynn Aggrey, a resident at Korle Bu Teaching Hospital in Accra, Ghana, said that as a new doctor, she had trouble finding other doctors


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The team here at Switchboard wants to thank you for helping us kickstart something big.

As you read this now, we’re building the developing world’s largest network of health workers in Tanzania, improving patient care for nearly 45 million people.

We’ve already enabled over 4 million free calls between doctors in Ghana and Liberia, allowing these incredible health professionals to work together nationwide.

Your donation will help bring our innovative model of nationwide mobile networks to new health workers and countries throughout the developing world.

Select Your Donation

If you would like to mail your donation, please make check payable to “Switchboard International

Woods and Switchboard win 2011 Mobile Health Top Innovators

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Eric Woods, CEO and Founder of Switchboard, speaks at the 2011 mHealth Summit, after accepting the Top 11 Innovators in Mobile Health for 2011 Award. The award was selected by the mHealth Alliance and Rockefeller Foundation

Google funds Switchboard with $250,000 grant
We would like to sincerely thank Google for providing Switchboard with a grant of $250,000 to connect all doctors and nurses in Tanzania on a free mobile phone network.

Tanzania has one of the lowest health worker-to-patient ratios in the world, so there is a tremendous need to improve the communication and collaboration of health care professionals in the country.

In Tanzania, Switchboard will help create a network of 1,336 doctors and 13,000 nurses, so that any of these health professionals can communicate with one another, free of charge, using their mobile phones. Building off our experience connecting doctors on such a network in both Ghana and Liberia, this will be the first opportunity for Switchboard to expand the network to nurses — critical players in getting care to more patients, and further into remote areas.

Switchboard will also create and distribute a physical health worker directory to each person in the network, so that doctors and nurses can expand their social networks and consult with new colleagues

Finally, Switchboard will be able to lay the foundation for our Ensemble two-way bulk SMS platform, allowing the government to send critical information straight to health workers’ mobile phones and collect data in real-time.

We want to truly thank Google for their generosity, and support for the work of health professionals and the care of patients in Tanzania

Dr. Patricia Mechael joins Board

Switchboard is very pleased to announce that Dr. Patricia Mechael has joined our Board of Directors.

Dr. Mechael is one of the key thought leaders in mHealth. She serves as the Executive Director of the mHealth Alliance, a central convener for the mHealth community that shares tools, knowledge, experience, and lessons learned. Dr. Mechael has been actively involved in the field of International Health for 15 years with field experience in over 30 countries primarily in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. She previously served as the Director of Strategic Application of Mobile Technology at the Earth Institute and Millennium Villages Project at Columbia University, with a special focus on mHealth and telemedicine.

Dr. Mechael holds a Masters in International Health from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and Hygiene (1998) and a PhD in Public Health and Policy from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (2006), where she specifically examined the role of mobile phones in relation to health in Egypt.
Eric Woods is a Top Innovator in mHealth!
We are proud to announce that Eric Woods, CEO and co-founder of Switchboard, has been named one of the Top 11 Innovators in Mobile Health for 2011 from the mHealth Alliance and Rockefeller Foundation! Eric has been awarded the honor for his work with Switchboard’s MDNet initiative. Congrats to Eric and all the rest of the Top Innovators!!

Switchboard in 7×7 Magazine
A little press won’t hurt. 7×7 Magazine recently featured Switchboard in their December print edition. There is a nice photo and write up about Eric Woods and Craig Edelman, the founders of Switchboard. Look out for a copy, or check out the online article

Eric Woods of Switchboard is panelist at 2011 mHealth Summit
Eric Woods, CEO and Founder of Switchboard, will serve on the National Partnerships panel at the mHealth Summit being held December 5 – 7, 2011 in National Harbor, Maryland just outside of Washington DC. The mHealth Summit brings together leaders from across the mHealth ecosystem (government, the private sector, industry, academia, providers and not-for-profit organizations) to advance collaboration in the use of wireless technology to improve health outcomes in the United States and abroad. For more information

Switchboard CEO is Top 11 Innovators Finalist! Vote for us!
Eric Woods, CEO & Founder of Switchboard, has been selected as a finalist for the mHealth Alliance’s Top 11 Innovators in Mobile Health in 2011 challenge for his work on MDNet (or Mobile Doctors Network).

RCT shows text messaging to health workers in Kenya improves patient care.
The New York Times reported this week on a recent study showing that basic text messages that contain malaria care protocols allowed nurses in Kenya to handle 24% more cases correctly. The study, published in the Lancet, carried out a Randomized Control Trial (RCT) in which 119 randomly selected health workers received two text messages each day, containing national guidelines on how to treat children with malaria. The researchers assessed how well the health workers managed their cases, compared to a control group of health workers which did not receive the messages.

This is big news, and the first RCT study showing that text messages direct to health care providers makes a significant impact on patient care.

Among other things, the study shows that the text messages led to a 30% increase in health workers giving the first dose of malaria treatment at the facility. The researchers describe this action as critical, as it ensures immediate treatment, and is associated with continued adherence to the full treatment course. And, even after 6 months of the intervention, the text messages had significant impact on workers giving the first dose at the facility.

The article truly speaks well for our MDNet program. By developing an innovative way to create large nationwide networks of health professionals, we are building the foundation for governments and health organizations to scale just the kind of intervention described in the study.

Using free calling as an incentive to join, we create nationwide networks of health workers. This allows us to collect information on health workers’ locations, specialities, and mobile phone contact information. With our proposed Ensemble Bulk SMS system, governments and health organizations can then send text messages direct to health workers’ phones. So, with MDNet and Ensemble, governments can efficiently educate and remind health workers of care protocols of any kind – countrywide and across any specialty.

And, messaging health workers is not only beneficial to patients, it’s also cost-effective.

To quote the New York Times article:

“Since each text cost less than a penny, every nurse in rural Kenya could get reminders for $39,000, the study said. That is far cheaper than sending trainers or brochures, neither of which improved care much, the authors said.”

MDNet featured in WHO mHealth Report
After a multi-year global survey on eHealth, we’re excited about the World Health Organization’s (WHO) June release of their 2011 mHealth Report, featuring Switchboard and our close partner, the Ghana Medical Association.

The report, released by the WHO’s Global Observatory for eHealth, assesses mHealth activities in 112 countries. Our MDNet program in Ghana was highlighted as one of five case studies, and includes discussion of our approach to networking 2,200 physicians, along with program benefits, cost structure, and lessons learned.

The report identifies the diverse ways in which mobile devices are being used for health around the world. The report notes the clear emergence of mhealth initiatives in both developed and developing countries, and discusses mobile health programs’ effectiveness and obstacles to implementation.

Read through the report to get the most recent global perspective on mHealth.

Liberia’s Doctors Can Now Find One Another
We’re excited to announce the release of Liberia’s first-ever Doctor Directory.

On July 1, 2011, we will begin distribution of a printed Directory to all 181 doctors and 100 health facilities throughout the country. In Liberia, a total of 181 doctors serve a population of 4 million people. The Directory, sponsored through the generous support of Lonestar Cell (MTN), contains the contact details every doctor working in the Liberia, along with 22 hospital phones that are also connected to MDNet.

The Directory serves as an important phase of the MDNet program — allowing doctors to expand their support network and reach out to colleagues working in the country. And, of course, doctors can call any number listed in the Directory (doctors and facilities both) free of charge.

When we first launched MDNet in Liberia, we gave MTN SIM cards to every doctor. In exchange, they gave us their information (Name, Specialty, Location of Practice, etc), which we have amassed into this easy-to-use directory. Taking cues from MDNet physicians, we adjusted the size of the directory so that it could fit into the pockets of doctors’ white coats.

We hope that the Directory, listing doctors by both surname and specialty, will make it easier for doctors to find individuals or specialists to consult with or refer patients to. With so few doctors working in Liberia, it’s crucial that doctors have the tools to make it easier to work together.