ClinicCommunicator to be taken beyond Uganda’s borders
ClinicCommunicator is a web-based app that partners with private hospitals and clinics to send automated SMS or email communications to patients. The app is used primarily to remind patients of upcoming appointments (thereby reducing queues and waiting times) and remind them to adhere to their medication schedule (particularly important with conditions such as HIV/Aids and diabetes). It is also used to solicit patient feedback so as to improve service offerings. The system is cost effective and saves time as it replaces phone calls. It also introduces a structured, easy-to-use system for tracking patient dealings.
Developed earlier this year by Access.Mobile, a Kampala-based firm begun in 2011, the app has now been rolled out to several leading private hospitals and clinics in Uganda. It was inspired by a nationwide data collection project conducted by Access.Mobile in conjunction with 70 private healthcare providers. The process highlighted a gap in the market for software like ClinicCommunicator.
Addressing a gap in the market
The app was developed by Ugandan software engineers in collaboration with a Microsoft MySkills4Afrika volunteer. Before release the product was tested at the International Hospital Kampala.
CIO of Access.Mobile Kaakpema Yelpaala explains the ClinicCommunicator thusly: “[It] improves medical adherence, keeps patients healthy and reduces the risk of drug resistance. It also provides real-time engagement, alerting patients about new health threats – such as Ebola – while also relaying other important health-related information. This provides patients with essential information in a cost-effective, accessible and quick way, proactively influencing health promoting behaviours.”
The software is paid for on a monthly subscription basis, the more patients on a provider’s database the higher the fee.
Moving into new markets
Having been adopted by several healthcare facilities in Uganda, Yelpaala says his company is looking to expand further in Africa, beginning with East Africa (EA). Yelpaala has accordingly been travelling in EA meeting up with service provider representatives to discuss the system and what it has to offer.
“Most hospitals in Sub-Saharan Africa are still using paper-based processes and do not have efficient ways to engage patients,” says Yelpaala. “ClinicCommunicator not only eases difficulties with data management, but perhaps, more importantly, [with] critical patient engagement. This includes patient scheduling, appointment and medication reminders, disease alerts and other patient communication. The solution provides a user-friendly way to save on lost revenue and allows health facilities to reach patients in a cost-effective manner.”
Focus is on mid-sized healthcare providers
Yelpaala says his firm is targeting mid-sized operations as the larger hospitals are already sorted in this regard. “Where we see the most opportunity is in the mid market because the big hospitals see the value in our solution, yes, but some of them have their own systems,” says Access.Mobile’s founder. “So what we’re saying is that we can come to you with an easy-to-deploy cloud-based solution that can be your patient communication side. So if you have an electronic medical record, that’s great, but we can handle the communication side.”
Yelpaala adds that “The challenges we are addressing through ClinicCommunciator are faced by healthcare providers across sub-Saharan Africa and beyond. We aim to design world-class solutions that create value for many users across Africa.”
African Healthcare in the Spotlight: Are we doing enough?
The healthcare sector in Africa is considered a major growth opportunity for two main reasons: the tremendous health challenges that the continent faces, and the very serious deficiencies that still exist in Africa’s healthcare, compared to the rest of the world. The recent Ebola outbreak has put the sector on the spotlight in Africa; while some countries scaled through the challenge and were declared Ebola-free, some are still grappling with the horror of the epidemic.
This begs the question, besides the financial gains for stakeholders, is the continent doing enough to safeguard the health of its populace, and what are the areas to consider and work on?
Dr. Anuschka Coovadia will be our guest on ‘Lunch with Our Leaders’ on Thursday, 20 November, and will be facilitating a Q&A session with the theme ‘African Healthcare in the Spotlight: Are we doing enough?’
Time: 14:00 to 15:00 (CAT)
When: Thursday, 20 November 2014
In case you can’t join us for that hour and you have a question, simply send it in an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll help ensure the question is posted on your behalf.