Mercy Ships

Reaching Underserved Communities Through An Innovative Approach to Data Collection and Analysis

“Effective work with underserved populations often depends on meeting people where they are – being flexible, speaking in their native language, and, to do that, you need technology that has been developed for those situations. Data security, user-friendly interfaces, internet-optional capabilities, and multi-language support are key—and REDCap Cloud delivers on all of those fronts,”

Denny Alcorn, Programs Data Management Director, International Programs, Mercy Ships


Mercy Ships is an international charity that operates the largest non-governmental hospital ships in the world. Mercy Ships provides direct medical care to patients with unmet surgical needs in low- and middle-income countries in Africa and collaborates with host nations to strengthen healthcare networks and improve access to quality healthcare. Founded in 1978, Mercy Ships also offers training opportunities for surgeons, nurses, anesthesia providers, administrators, medical technicians, and engineers.

Mercy Ships has performed more than 100,000 lifesaving and life-changing surgical procedures, and over 500,000 dental procedures for patients in need. The organization has trained thousands of local medical professionals while also teaching basic healthcare throughout local communities.

Supporting a Volunteer Crew

Currently, Mercy Ships has more than 1,600 volunteers helping in locations around the world each year. In keeping with the organization’s focus on maximizing charitable contributions, volunteers with Mercy Ships do not receive compensation. Because of this commitment, Mercy Ships is able to use direct contributions from its supporters to bring care to those who need it most. REDCap Cloud is proud to provide access to our unified data science platform to support vital care and research efforts for underserved communities within Africa.

Mercy Ships and REDCap Cloud                         

With the proliferation of smartphones throughout many parts of West Africa, REDCap Cloud’s multilingual survey technology is enhancing patient engagement by enabling innovative research and patient monitoring methods. To that end, Mercy Ships uses the REDCap Cloud platform to reliably collect patient survey data to inform analyses using the World Health Organization’s Universal Health Coverage model, enabling improvements to aspects of care and resource allocation that are then shared with the wider global surgical community.

Since 2019, Mercy Ships and REDCap Cloud have collaborated effectively, testament to the power of clinical research consulting, and since then, Mercy Ships has performed more than 3,600 surgeries for over 3,500 patients throughout Guinea, Senegal, and The Gambia. Admission surveys from all patients, as well as telephone surveys at 3 and 12 months post-operatively, are entered electronically into REDCap Cloud as the surveys are performed. The robust and flexible design of REDCap Cloud’s platform plays an integral role in supporting data collection for a diverse patient population that ultimately leads to enhanced care throughout the region.

Business Impact

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REDCap Cloud’s GDPR-compliant security and privacy, user-friendly interface, and multi-language survey capabilities enable Mercy Ships to serve a diverse group of patients throughout different countries.

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REDCap Cloud’s longitudinal data collection, API, and data export capabilities allow Mercy Ships to analyze its operations, devise improvements, and disseminate those learnings to the wider surgical community.

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With REDCap Cloud’s Mobile EDC, data collection and management is possible even offline, thereby empowering volunteers to conduct patient surveys in areas without internet access.

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Mercy Ships’ patient survey completion rate is greater than 80 percent, indicating the intuitiveness of the platform and ease of creating surveys for different types of devices, in several languages.

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