What is Smart Triage?

Smart TriageSmart Triage is a digital platform that enables the triage of sick and critically ill children at health facilities in low resourced settings. The platform consists of:

  1. Smart Triage mobile app: Using predictive algorithms this mobile application allows healthcare providers to triage pediatric patients efficiently and effectively. The triage process is supported by pulse oximetry and the integration of a custom pulse oximetry application. Once triaged, children are assigned a risk category which allows health care providers to easily identify emergency and high risk children to ensure they receive the lifesaving care they need as quickly as possible.  The predictive algorithm was developed and is updated based on actual outcomes.
  2. Clinician dashboard: Linked to the mobile application this interactive dashboard is accessed through a laptop or tablet.  It displays real time data on patient risk prioritization, demographics, time to treatment, and their location in the facility. The dashboard also includes customized reports that Mother holding childcan be used by the hospital to track treatment times, set and monitor health care quality benchmarks and facilitate ongoing quality improvement.
  3. Smart Spot: Integrated with the mobile application and clinician dashboard, this Bluetooth enabled treatment tracking and patient location system allows health care workers to easily identify priority and high risk patients and monitor treatment times to ensure the timely provision of care.

Together, the Smart Triage platform uses a data-driven approach to improve the quality of care for children suffering from severe infectious illness and enables the allocation of scarce resources more efficiently. The goal of Smart Triage is to enable healthcare workers to recognize children in need of emergency treatment more rapidly, deploy resources efficiently to enable timely care and improve pediatric outcomes.

Why is Smart Triage needed?

In low resource settings, patients are frequently admitted and treated on a first-come, first-serve basis, leading to delayed care for children who are in need of urgent treatment. Sepsis, defined as a systemic response to infection that leads to vital organ dysfunction, is a leading cause of death and disability in children. These children can receive faster treatment if every child is rapidly triaged upon arrival to identify danger and priority signs of sepsis. Sepsis however, is a syndrome that mimics many conditions and few health workers can confidently triage and diagnose sepsis. With Sepsis, every hour of delay in treatment is associated with greater risks of organ damage and death. 

Mother and child in clinic
The purpose of Smart Triage is to develop and clinically evaluate a digital triage tool that can be used to rapidly and reliably, without the need for extensive memorization or training by frontline health workers, identify critically ill children (including those with sepsis) and get them the care they need as quickly as possible.

In addition to shortening time to treatment and improving health outcomes for critically ill children, the Smart Triage platform has been designed to support hospitals and health care teams with their healthcare quality improvement (QI) efforts. Due to a variety of factors, quality of care in many low resource settings is suboptimal and associated with more than 8 million deaths yearly from conditions that should be treatable by the health system. QI is a continuous day to day process of identifying areas for improvement and implementing solutions to address them. Smart Triage can contribute to QI efforts by providing critical high-quality data to strengthen leadership and governance, engage the workforce, and facilitate optimal use of resources.

How did we develop Smart Triage?

In 2017 the Centre for International Child Health (CICH) at BC Children's Hospital Foundation was awarded $250,000 as a finalist in the Google.org Impact Challenge. The innovation proposed was the Pocket Doc for Pneumonia, a low-cost smartphone tool that would help health care workers in remote areas and developing countries to accurately diagnose pneumonia and save children's lives. The project was deployed in Uganda in 2018, with partner health facility Holy Innocents Children's Hospital. 

Wellcome LogoIn 2019, a grant was generously awarded by Wellcome, to engage in the next phase of this project — Smart Triage. This phase of the project aims to validate the predictive algorithms used in the Paediatric Rapid Sepsis Trigger (PRST) tool, the basis of the Smart Triage risk prioritization model used in the Smart Triage app.  The work on the this phase of the project began in September 2019 and is currently ongoing at two sites in both Kenya and Uganda, with support from our partners at the Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI) and Walimu in Uganda. 

Uganda hospitalIn Uganda, baseline data collection for the PRST study began in May of 2020.  The PRST model was validated using data collected from a total of 1756 participants. The validated model was integrated into the Smart Triage mobile application and the Smart Triage platform was implemented at Jinja Regional Referral Hospital (JRRH) in April 2021. As of May 31, 2021 over 2000 children have been triaged using the Smart Triage mobile application. Over 40 healthcare team members have been trained and engaged with this innovative new platform. Tailored reports, providing data on key metrics such as time to treatment, are currently being used by the staff at JRRH to support their health care quality improvement initiatives.

Baseline data collection to validate the PRST model in Kenya began at two hospitals in February 2021. As of May 31, 2021 data had been collected on over 2200 participants. Model validation and the implementation of the Smart Triage platform at Mbagathi County Hospital is estimated to begin in the fall of 2021.

What’s next?

We are very excited to announce our partnership with Grand Challenges Canada, with the support of Grand Challenges Canada, funded by the Government of Canada, beginning in 2020. Smart Triage is one of 107 projects that have won funding through the Grand Challenges Transition to Scale program. This program supports innovators from Canada and low- and middle-income countries who are positioned to take their bold ideas to big impact in the area of global health. Through this grant we will work with our partners at Walimu and the United Catholic Medical Bureau (UCMB), to expand the Smart Triage platform to an additional 4 hospitals in Uganda. This funding will provide an opportunity to externally validate the Smart Triage platform and develop a scalable package which can be used to engage stakeholders and policymakers to integrate this improved triaging approach nationally.

Grand Challenges Canada logo


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Our Team

The Smart Triage team includes experts with strengths and perspectives from different fields, countries, and contexts. The Centre for International Child Health at the BC Children’s Hospital coordinates activities for the team. Our team includes experts in child health, sepsis, neonatology, mobile health, epidemiology, technology, engineering, software development, business, and program management.

Research Team

  • Dr. Samuel Akech – Principal Investigator, KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme
  • Dr. Nathan Kenya Mugisha – Executive Director, Walimu
  • Dr. Abner Tagoola – Head of Department Paediatrics, Jinja Regional Referral Hospital
  • Dr. Sam Orach – Executive Secretary, Ugandan Catholic medical Bureau
  • Dr. Ronald Kasyaba – Assistant Executive Secretary, Ugandan Catholic Medical Bureau
  • Dr. Yash Pillay – Postdoctoral Research Fellow, UBC, Department of Anesthesiology, Pharmacology and Therapeutics; Project Coordinator, Centre for International Child Health
  • Dr. Mark Ansermino – Director, Centre for International Child Health at BC Children’s; Co-Director, Digital Health Innovation Lab at BC Children’s; Professor, UBC Department of Anesthesia, Pharmacology and Therapeutics
  • Dr. Niranjan Kissoon – Vice-President of Medical Affairs and Investigator, BC Children's; Professor, UBC Departments of Pediatrics and Surgery (Emergency Medicine)
  • Dr. Matthew O. Wiens – Investigator, Centre for International Child Health; Assistant Professor, UBC Department of Anesthesia, Pharmacology and Therapeutics
  • Dr. Guy Dumont – Investigator, BC Children’s Hospital; Co-Director, Digital Health Innovation Lab at BC Children’s; Professor, UBC Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
  • Dr. David Kimutai – Paediatrician, Mbagathi County Hospital Kenya
  • Dr. Paska Apiyo – Deputy Director, Gulu Regional Referral Hospital
  • Dr. Florence Oyella – Head of Department Paediatrics, Gulu Regional Referral Hospital
  • Dr. Benard Opar – Technical Coordinator, Walimu
  • Collins Agaba – Project Coordinator, Walimu
  • Savio Mwaka – Program Manager, Walimu
  • Catherine Kiggundu – Accountant, Walimu
  • Dr. Stephen Businge – Holy Innocence Children’s Hospital, Uganda
  • James Karugaba – Holy Innocence Children’s Hospital, Uganda
  • Mike English – Head of the Clinical Information Network (CIN), KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme
  • Paul Mwaniki – Data Management, KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme
  • Morris Ogero – Data Management, KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme
  • Cynthia Khazenzi – Data Management, KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme
  • Stephen Kamau – Study Coordination, KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme
  • Joyce Kigo – Data Management, KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Research Programme
  • Dr. Edmond Li – UBC, Department of Anesthesiology, Pharmacology and Therapeutics.
  • Bella Hwang – Program Manager, Centre for International Child Health
  • Dustin Dunsmuir – Software Developer, Centre for International Child Health
  • Charly Huxford – Research Assistant, Centre for International Child Health.
  • Kat Pallot – Research Assistant, Centre for International Child Health
  • Stefanie Novakowski – Grants Facilitator, Centre for International Child Health

Support and Acknowledgements

The Smart Discharges team gratefully acknowledges our implementing partners, Walimu, KEMRI, and the Uganda Catholic Medical Bureau, as well as our funding partners, including Google, Wellcome Trust, and Grand Challenges Canada.

Smart Triage Partners


For more information, please contact Yash Pillay.