Rwanda to benefit from new strides in e-Healthcare management

In Rwanda, the cost of accessing the Internet continues to fall and as a result, connection speed has improved as reliance on the Internet within the East African region grows. Today many companies are increasingly showing interest in providing various web-based solutions for their clients.
An improvement in e-Health record keeping could make treatment easier. (Net Photo)
An improvement in e-Health record keeping could make treatment easier. (Net Photo)

In Rwanda, the cost of accessing the Internet continues to fall and as a result, connection speed has improved as reliance on the Internet within the East African region grows.

Today many companies are increasingly showing interest in providing various web-based solutions for their clients.

In line with this, starting today, November 8 to10, 2010, the United States Trade and Development Agency (USTDA), which is responsible for advancing the U.S commercial interests in emerging markets, will host a technical workshop at the Serena Hotel, Kigali Rwanda.

The focus will be on addressing both policy and technical elements affecting the situation of eHealthcare in Rwanda.
According to a 2008 e-health study on Rwanda by the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA), Health Information Technology in Rwanda is a quickly growing industry particularly in the areas of electronic health records and the national reporting system.

In Rwanda, some of the existing e-Health initiatives include; the OpenMRS – an Open-source Medical Records System that tracks patient-level data; TracPlus and TRACnet – monthly monitoring of infectious diseases including HIV/AIDS, TB, and Malaria and Telemedicine – used to deliver health and healthcare services, information and education to geographically remote areas.

During the workshop participants will explore and assess policies that can support an enabling environment for e-healthcare solutions, as well as discuss issues surrounding e-health such as; telemedicine, electronic medical records and healthcare information systems.

Additionally, industry trends and best practices in terms of financing strategies, and government policymaking in the health sector will be addressed. It is only on the basis that through addressing the various ICT and broadband solutions in the country that an improved healthcare infrastructure and delivery system can be established.

The workshop is also expected to draw high-level government delegates from the United States, the East African Community (EAC), senior representatives from the nascent industry, private-sector representatives from Sub-Saharan Africa, U.S. Information Technology and Health industries as well as expert panellists.

These will be joined with decision-makers from both the public and private sectors, who are responsible for overseeing and delivering healthcare solutions in the country.

Some eHealthcare products and solutions currently available on the market will also be showcased for interested clients. One of these products is the Healthcare Information Management System.

The Healthcare Information Management System (HIMS) was developed by Kutana Corp., formerly the Social Works (SW) Global: It is an integrated healthcare resource management and service automation software platform that enables healthcare providers and institutions to capture, process and easily retrieve accurate information on patient demographics, interaction activities, costs, facility utilisation rates, inventory management, rate of admissions and charges, disease patterns, and many other valuable health information details.

‘Kutana’ in Kiswahili means ‘coming together’. The company is currently based in Tema, Ghana with offices in 13 African countries and a clientele spanning Africa, North America and Southeast Asia. HIMS is the latest in its wide-ranging catalogue of products designed to empower healthcare providers to advance the patient care process, reduce medical errors, increase productivity and improve business operations.

Unlike many e-health products, HIMS is offered free of charge and is developed on the principle of cloud computing.

“The future of information technology belongs to cloud computing,” said Veronica Ssempebwa, the product’s representative of Rwanda and Uganda.

Cloud computing is a system that allows consumers and businesses to use applications without installation and access their personal files at any computer with internet access. This technology allows for much more efficient computing by centralizing storage, memory, processing and bandwidth.

The most illustrative example of cloud computing is the free email service providers like Yahoo, Gmail or Hotmail.  Users don’t require software or servers to use them but only internet-connected computers. The burden of managing servers and software is borne by the cloud service provider.

Although cloud computing is still a relatively new concept, cloud computing is being billed as the next big thing in the information technology world.  It’s also drawing different definitions. But as wikiinvest.com, a U.S. stocks information website, simply explained it, “it’s a technology that uses the internet and central remote servers to maintain data and applications.”

HIMS is a web-based solution that is similar to any website that can be accessed in any computer that has internet. 
To lure more clients, Ssempebwa said that the installation of the service is free of charge. Free tutorials and online guides are also available.

Ssempebwa asserts that the HIMS offers a robust platform that is easily customisable to suit specific needs and is gauged by its partners, who include among others Seacom, International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Oracle. 
However, this does not imply that the system has no setbacks.

“All systems have their challenges but it’s important to focus on the advantages. To handle usage challenges, a call centre is on standby to help clients with any issues that might arise.”

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