Moving from paper-based workflows to real-time health data management
Kenya Red Cross and Danish Red Cross came together to pilot digital health technologies in an attempt to tackle complex health issues in Kenya. They partnered with Unumed, a private company that provides technical knowledge in digital health delivery through smart real-time health analytics. Two pilot projects took place within this partnership. The first one focused on providing Non-communicable disease (NCD) care and information in rural and urban communities. , The second pilot aimed to innovate health data management in a refugee camp.
Each year fifteen million people die from Non-communicable diseases (NCDs). 86% of these deaths occur in low and middle-income countries. Weak health systems struggle to aid a large number of people that depend on continuous and often lifelong treatments.
Therefore, the first pilot consisted of 11 free medical outreaches in Nyeri and Nairobi counties aiming to provide healthcare, information, and medication to 1,800 people.Kenya Red Cross volunteers collected data using the Unumed platform, and identified 500 people at risk. The platform generates insight reports and data visualizations to help volunteers and KRCS consolidate and make sense of the data. This analysis seeks to enable informed public health decisions as well as to share health data easily and securely between doctors and communities to improve effective treatment and prevention efforts. There is furthermore, potential to use the data to understand health seeking behaviour and improve behaviour change interventions, which are crucial for achieving life style changes in NCD management.
The second pilot aimed to explore solutions for the often slow and costly processes governing paper-based health records which hamper effective healthcare in the Kalobeyei refugee settlement. Digital health records allow for real-time disease surveillance which can prevent, morbidity, mortality and expenses as an integral part of the existing health services.
The project consists of using biometric iris technology to digitalise health records. This ambition goes beyond traditional information management, moving into real-time data platforms accessible to both communities and humanitarian agencies. The insights and visualizations generated can provide opportunity for new insights to make evidence-based decisions on public health policies and interventions, thereby supporting to improve health services and the red cross programmes.
There is still much testing left in this field. Nonetheless, experimenting with health innovations is revolutionizing not only the types of services delivered by humanitarian agencies but giving communities secure access to their medical information and clear steps to reduce risk health factors.