A new digital health care system for patients to access doctors through their mobile devices was introduced yesterday at the opening of this year’s trade exhibition in Gikondo, Kigali.
The service will allow smart phone holders to download an app while those with feature phones access the service through a USSD code.
Ali Parsa, the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Babyl said with the current global population, mobile phones could be used in bridging the gap for affordable health service delivery in all places.
“We live in a world where over 50 percent of the population has little or no access to healthcare yet increasingly, most of us carry a mobile phone in our pockets. So the question for us was ‘can we put most of the healthcare people need on their mobile phone and deliver it to them wherever they are at affordable costs?’’ said Parsa.
Over 1 million people in the United Kingdom are currently using this service since its launch in 2014.
Rwanda will be part of the global expansion programme in efforts to promote universal health care.
Babyl is working in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Rwanda Social Security Board and mobile networks to launch the service.
While commending the government of Rwanda for its support, Tracey McNeil, the CEO of Babyl Rwanda, pointed out that after successful training of health professionals, the service will be rolled out in the whole country in October.
“We have been actively working in Rwanda for over a year now with government bodies such as the Ministry of Health. We have recruited and trained top highly qualified Rwandan doctors and nurses who will provide expert healthcare to Rwandans across the country. Our testing and free trial period is underway. We will be rolling out the service this coming October in Kigali and the rest of the country will follow over the next few months,” said McNeill.
She added that with the arrangement, patients would have an option of accessing medical consultation through both video and audio interface, which cuts the previously long tape of challenges.
“Booths equipped with digital tablets will be used and such infrastructure will be extended to both towns and rural areas where people have limited funds to travel to towns for treatment,” she added.
After registration and entering a command on a mobile device, patients will be linked to a healthcare professional.
Before seeking consultations they provide background information, including current symptoms.
The patients are then clinically assessed before receiving validated responses from the doctors through cutting edge monitoring and diagnostic tools.
Medical prescriptions through their cell phones follow and purchases of medication from a nearby pharmacy can be made. All videos, audios, notes, images and messages are stored for record purposes.
At least 30 pharmacies are ready to engage these services which will soon begin with a pilot phase at Conseil Pharmacy in Kacyiru.
Meanwhile, Dr Patrick Singa, Medical Director at Babyl Rwanda expressed optimism in the new services for utilising ICT to handle non-emergency cases and alleviate the challenge of unnecessary queues at hospitals.
“Having practiced medicine in Rwanda and for the last 7 years, I have witnessed the Rwandan healthcare system grow leaps and bounds setting precedence for other markets to follow. However, we still face shortages in doctors and patients still experience queues at clinics and hospitals. This service will enable those without emergency cases to access doctors saving time and money whilst still receiving top healthcare service from our doctors,” said Dr Singa.
The service is now in its testing phase. One can now dial *811# from their MTN or Tigo line to register for updates and inclusion in the free trial period when it starts. You can also call the call center on 8111 for more information.