The eC-Card app

The background

Adverse sexual health outcomes such as sexually transmitted infections (STI) and unplanned pregnancy are major public health issues in England and for more than three decades condom schemes have been used to try to tackle these problems head-on.

The first multicomponent condom distribution scheme (C-Card) was developed in 1989 in Edinburgh and C-Card schemes are now widespread in the UK.

But while these programmes provide easy access to free condoms for young people and meet the requirement for regional sexual health services to provide free contraception, many of them are not digital and simply rely on a wallet-size physical card rather than an app. In the 21st century, the desire for digital solutions has never been more apparent – particularly with the younger generation.

Furthermore, the products in operation were frequently subject to abuse and failed to provide any useful data on who was accessing the service.

The solution

Our team created the eC-Card app to solve these problems.

This app allows young people under 25 to confidentially obtain free condoms from pharmacies, improving sexual health outcomes for people in Essex and generating a wealth of data for sexual health service providers in the process.

How it works

The app is easy to use. An individual only needs to provide their phone number, date of birth and location to confirm eligibility.

This prevents system abuse in two ways: sharing of a one-time passcode to users’ phone numbers to ensure authenticity and restricting access to contraception collection to a time period of your choice (the default is once every seven days).

Post-registration the user is shown a list of the closest collection points to get their free pack of condoms. All they have to do is scan a QR code at the collection point using the app and the products will be dispensed to them.

As well as helping the user, the data collected is beneficial for the healthcare provider. The self-contained eC-Card app allows you to stay updated on the sexual health of teens in your area by tracking
distribution and obtaining data on teen pregnancies and STI outbreaks.

What’s more, you can customise the app to your specific needs.

For example, the app has a unique feature that allows a provider to have a direct conduit of communication with their users.

This allows providers to upload education material and services related to sexual health or STI outbreaks. It serves as a communication conduit between the sexual health providers and the users, offers the ability to send out notifications to the entire user base and, with inbuilt geolocation technology, it allows you to build an app unique to your demographic.

Private user registration requires only the phone number and
postcode to function – ensuring the privacy of the user and its accessible from either the mobile app or web browser.

There is also zero interaction required so a user can collect condoms by just scanning a QR code at the point of dispensing.

We are looking at finetuning this further with smart vending machines which will support the element of confidentiality. The first three of these are set to be rolled out at Essex University outside the main nightclub on campus, at Anglian Ruskin and at Writtle College.

The benefits

Local schemes in place in Essex have proved to be a highly successful element of its strategy to reduce unprotected sex, rates of STIs and unplanned pregnancies.

It has also provided direct communication between the provider and the 6,000 people in the Essex area that have already registered.

The Essex sexual health service also has integrated an education system on there that gives users videos on consent, STIs, and types of contraception – when they first register.

This app is viable for other regions, making access to sexual health resources easier than ever before.

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We are experienced in understanding how to address all stakeholder needs when designing a solution and have experience helping numerous healthcare systems, hospitals, and trusts with their digital transformation.