Localized illustrations for Maternal and Child Health Community Mobilizers in Uganda

As part of its community outreach communications materials, our team in Uganda is working hard to make sure our materials are relatable to community social workers providing maternal and child health care in villages across Uganda.

Another Option is the strategic lead for social and behavior change on the USAID Uganda-funded Regional Health Integration to Enhance Services (RHITES) North – Lango managed by John Snow International (JSI). The focus of this five-year effort is to increase the utilization of health services in HIV, malaria, TB and Mother and Child Health by improving the delivery of integrated services and increasing the skills of health providers, local community-based organizations and civil society.

Another Option broadcasts radio public service announcements to promote early grade reading in Nepal

Voice artists record Public Service Announcements for Another Option in Nepal.

Voice artists record Public Service Announcements for Another Option in Nepal.

In support of the USAID Early Grade Reading Program (EGRP), Another Option in Nepal recently completed the translation and recording of four radio public service announcements in ten local languages. The translated recordings are being broadcast on 20 local radio stations across rural Nepal. The radio announcements are part of Another Option’s ongoing outreach to caregivers and teachers of grade one to three children and important adults in their lives.

 

Radio is an important tool in the behavior change communications toolbox, especially when reaching out to people living in rural areas. In a country such as Nepal where a majority of the population lives outside urban centers, radio remains the most powerful and cost-effective medium for mass outreach. In addition to providing entertainment, radio serves as an information hub for parents, teachers, and other adults who work with children. In fact, qualitative data collected in support of the EGRP outreach in 2015 has confirmed this in the Nepalese context.

 The Early Grade Reading Program is a five-year project to support the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology to improve the foundational reading skills of Nepali primary school students in grades one through three. Another Option provides technical assistance in social and behavior change communication with an emphasis on mass media, advocacy and public awareness to increase family and community support for early grade reading.

World Reading Day is April 23

To celebrate the day, USAID Read Liberia has produced three Public Service Announcements that are airing in the six counties where the early grade reading activity is working. Each PSA's includes the voices of Peaches, a Hipco musician and rapper, Christopher Jackson, a football player on the Liberian National team, and Teah Dennis, also a football player on the Liberian National Team.

On the recordings, the group shares why reading has been important for their successful careers and what simple actions parents can do at home to help their children to learn to read.

Produced by Accountability Lab in Liberia, the PSAs were approved by USAID and the Liberia Ministry of Education.

Another Option is in the studios in Nepal!

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Our Nepal-based team, led by Prabodh Acharya, is in the recruiting studio this month to record public service announcements (PSAs) to share the importance of early grade reading in ten additional local languages, at the request of the Government of Nepal.

Another Option’s work in Nepal supports USAID’s Early Grade Reading Program (EGRP). The five-year, $53.8 million project supports the Ministry of Education to improve the foundational reading skills of Nepali primary school students in grades one through three.

TEDMED 2020 moves to Boston

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We are thrilled to announce our next event, TEDMED 2020, is moving to an exciting new home in Boston, and to a brand new spot on the calendar. We look forward to seeing you March 2-4, at the Westin Waterfront Hotel in Boston’s up and-coming Seaport District. 

Boston is the perfect home for TEDMED 2020, a city and a community with deep roots in pioneering new ideas and pushing forward innovation – much like TEDMED itself. 

We hope you make plans to join us at TEDMED 2020.

TEDMED coverage: Bringing Music Into the Visual World

This article was originally posted on inspirational news site Ever Widening Circles.

Have you ever looked up the lyrics to a song? When you read them alone, they’re flat, stagnant, and lacking the feeling the piece is meant to elicit. But add tone, expression, and a few instrumentals to the equation and you’ve got a piece overflowing with emotion and character, lifting those words into a new meaning.

So, if only those lyrics are being interpreted for the deaf community, to what extent are they being included in the art form?

Here’s one of the people bridging this gap between the auditory world and the visual by expressing the emotional power of music through a special variation of American Sign Language (ASL) created specifically for music.

For years, Amber Galloway Gallego has been interpreting songs, both live at music festivals and on her YouTube channel, with this dynamic variation of sign language.

Here’s how TEDMED describes what she does,

“Sign language music interpreter Amber Galloway Gallego demonstrates the emotional connection between lyrics and sounds with the flow of her hands. Responding to a desire from the Deaf community to see, experience and connect emotionally to music in the same way hearing people do, Amber developed an immersive style that brings music to life in a way not often seen in music interpreting.” 1

So, how does it work? Here’s Vox with the story. Just a warning for sensitive ears, there are a few f-bombs dropped midway through.

The multitude of ways we’re able to communicate and share experiences with one another is one of the aspects of humanity that truly sets us apart from the rest of the animal world. Music is one of our oldest and most expressive forms of communication. It’s a part of who we are, so why should the ability to feel the emotions it conjures be limited to a specific group of us?

“That’s the whole reason we go to music events–is to be a part of this experience and forget about the rest of the world, and be there in that moment. And so many times deaf people are not allowed that experience because we as hearing people choose to say no.” — Amber Galloway Gallego 3

To see one example of how she truly expresses the music, take a look at Amber’s interpretation of Michael Jackson’s song, Beat It, from her YouTube channel.

You can learn even more about how Amber Galloway Gallego found herself with this knack for music interpretation and what drives her to keep going in this wonderful feature from the Houston Chronicle. Be sure to explore the rest of her YouTube channel for more amazing interpretations and, as always, stay open to new possibilities!

TEDMED Coverage – Medical Video Game Guru: Interview with Sam Glassenberg, Level Ex CEO

This article was originally posted on medical news site Medgadget

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Sam Glassenberg has spent his career in the video game industry, and now is on a mission to bring the leading edge of video game technology into healthcare. Sam is the founder and CEO of Level Ex, an award winning company making professional video games for doctors. Before Level Ex, Sam was CEO of a leading independent game publisher in Hollywood, led the DirectX team at Microsoft, and has been pushing limits in the gaming industry. Sam has an M.S. in Computer Science and Graphics from Stanford University, and a B.S. in Computer Engineering from the University of Illinois. I met Sam at the recently concluded TEDMED 2018 and spoke with him about his company and the direction they are headed.

Tom Fowler, Medgadget: What is your favorite video game of all time? (excluding Level Ex games of course)

Sam Glassenberg: It’s a toss-up between Duke Nukem 3D (1996) and Half-Life 2 (2004). Both of these games introduced revolutionary graphics technologies, physics-based gameplay, storytelling techniques, and most importantly – raised the bar for interactable environments. The world of Duke Nukem really came to life – it felt as though you could interact with almost any element in the urban environment, which was unheard of in 1996. Half-Life 2 had breathtaking graphics and artwork for the time. Most importantly, its in-game physics were sophisticated enough to enable groundbreaking physics-based gameplay in the genre. It was the first-person-shooter to have complex puzzles that required you to manipulate objects in the scene the right way to achieve the goal – combining rigid objects, water, forces, and other physical elements. My favorite game in the last few years is Mushroom 11. It’s a physics puzzler that was actually designed by our Lead Game Designer at Level Ex before he joined us. I’m not the only one with that opinion – it won an Apple Design Award and Google Play Independent Game of the Year in 2017.

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Medgadget: When did you first get interested in expanding your video gaming interests into healthcare?

Sam Glassenberg: The whole thing happened by accident in 2012.

I’ve enjoyed an exciting and impactful career in the video games industry animating Star Wars cutscenes at LucasArts/LucasFilm and managing teams at Microsoft and elsewhere.

I come from a long line of doctors – my grandfather, both my parents, uncles, and my wife. I was the black sheep of the family that didn’t go to medical school.

Back in 2012, my father, who is an anesthesiologist at Northwestern in Chicago, asked me to put all this “video game nonsense” to good use and build him a fiberoptic intubation simulator for his colleagues and residents. “I don’t want to drag anyone to the sim center,” he said. “Make me something that’ll run on their iPads.”

Two years later he called me up and asked, “How many people downloaded that thing?” “I have no idea,” I responded. “Let me check.”

So I did. We had 100,000 downloads from doctors, nurses, and EMTs worldwide. At that point, I googled it and they had done efficacy studies on it that showed it improved physician performance. Clearly, this was fulfilling a major unmet need in the medical community.

In 2016, I decided to assemble a team of top video game artists, engineers, and designers – along with top physicians in their field and leaders from digital health to build mobile and VR video games for physicians, now becoming a go-to virtual patient platform that allows them to overcome clinical challenges they face in medical practice, learn new approaches and techniques, and keep up to speed on medical device and pharmaceutical products – all in the framework of an entertaining video game.

Medgadget: What was the biggest design hurdle transitioning from creating entertainment oriented games to medically accurate simulations?

Sam Glassenberg: Our company doesn’t have to make this compromise when creating our games. Our team of game designers, who have decades of experience making games across a number of genres [played by 100s of millions of users], are skilled at applying proven game design principles from entertainment-based games to our physician video games. They know how to capture the thrill and challenge of practicing medicine from first-person perspective surgical scenarios to complex diagnosis puzzles that translates to an engaging and fun experience for the physician, especially when you present competitive design mechanics like scoring, time limits and leaderboards.

 

Medgadget: Do you foresee Level Ex expanding to mannequins and simulation hardware?

Sam Glassenberg: No; I don’t see us heading in that direction. There’s an ecosystem out there already of companies selling simulators and mannequins into hospitals. Unfortunately, only a fraction of medical professionals can even access this ecosystem since these tools are locked away in a few hundred simulation centers or inconsistently used across hospitals due to cost, lack of realism, and/or limited use cases. We’ve found that our ability to deliver our high bar of realistic content on mobile gives us the ability to impact the practice of medicine at scale (we’ve already crossed 300,000 medical professionals in just a year).

 

Medgadget: If I gave you $1 billion to develop a product of any kind, what would you create?

Sam Glassenberg: In short: I’d fix EHRs.

Transitioning from a career in video games to healthcare has been a sequence of what I’d call, for lack of a better term, “face-palm-able” moments. Moments where we realize how gruesomely far behind-the-curve healthcare can be relative to other industries. To their credit, healthcare folks readily admit this and share their frustration.

Coming from video games, we are constantly uncovering the challenges doctors face in learning new techniques. The stories all follow the same arc, with a climax that’s some variation of: “Wait a minute – we solved that problem over a decade ago in the games industry!”.

At Level Ex, we’re solving the problem for physician training – which is an important step in improving both patient outcomes and physician job satisfaction.

What is even more crushing to physician job satisfaction? EHRs.

When I order a Lyft on my phone, the user interface has been tuned and optimized to the point that I literally have to move one finger the minimal possible distance with the fewest number of taps to order a car.

My wife’s a pediatrician. At night, I watch her type and click endlessly for hours into her EHR. Typing the same things – over and over again. Dragging her mouse for miles in a slow, unwieldy interface that looks straight out of 1991. She’s literally doing it right now as I type up the answer to this question.

This is someone who has spent a substantial percentage of her life, at considerable expense, learning how to be a doctor. I shudder to think of the billions of dollars wasted as specialists are relegated to data entry, not to mention the immeasurable cost of the resulting attrition.

Facebook, Google, Uber, Grubhub, Siri, video games – we’ve solved these UX and data entry problems many times over. With $1B I’d unleash that on EHRs and disrupt that entire industry.

Another Options Consultant working on Sesame Workshop South Africa project

Bettina (in the middle with a camera) poses with two puppateers and their puppets from the Takalani Sesame production. The two puppets are Neno (Elmo for US audiences) and Kami (South Africa’s HIV-positive muppet).

Bettina (in the middle with a camera) poses with two puppateers and their puppets from the Takalani Sesame production. The two puppets are Neno (Elmo for US audiences) and Kami (South Africa’s HIV-positive muppet).

In addition to her ongoing communications work with Another Option, our consultant Bettina has been hard at work with some new furry friends! Over the last few months, she has been supporting Sesame Workshop’s launch of a new vision, strategy, and program office in South Africa. Known as Takalani Sesame (Be Happy, Sesame in Venda), the South African co-production of Sesame Street has aired since 2000.  As the program gears up to produce another two seasons of the children’s show, Bettina is supporting the South African team in a variety of ways including branding, report writing, photography, and social media outreach.

Nepal EGRP Public Awareness report published

To support Another Option’s ongoing work promoting Early Grade Reading in Nepal, the Social and Behavior Change Technical team for the RTI-managed and USAID-funded project designed a national study to measure awareness of key messages and behaviors related to early grade reading. In partnership with various branches of the Government of Nepal, the study used a mixture of quantitative and qualitative methods to interview families about their beliefs and behaviors related towards reading and their children.

 Overall key findings identified that 57.1% parents and 81.9% teachers had listened to radio PSAs published by Another Option, and 39.1% parents and 50.5% teachers had listened to the radio program “Ramailo Padhai, Digo Sikai” (in English, Reading is Fun). Significant numbers of parents and teachers could recall key messages from the materials as well.

 

The full report is available here for download.

Another Option is a partner with TEDMED 2018

The TEDMED conference provides a shared space for leaders in health and medicine to come together and share ideas. At TEDMED 2018, attendees the power of Chaos + Clarity to advance science, global public health, and medical innovation across a wide range of topics.

Events explore the technology, creativity and innovation that contribute to a healthier future. Transformative startups and inspiring entrepreneurs also play an important role in the annual conference, sharing innovations with the TEDMED family.

Since 2013, Another Option has been a partner with TEDMED managing media relations  for TEDMED’s annual meetings. Media coverage has ranged from NPR, Washington Post, BBC, Fast Company, STAT, and professional media for widespread coverage on TV, blogs, and social media.