HUYE – Hospitals will soon begin using telemedicine technologies to treat patients.
Telemedicine is the use of telecommunication and information technologies to provide distant clinical healthcare at. The technology helps improve access to medical services that would otherwise not be available in rural areas.
A pilot study is set to be conducted for a period of three months starting on February 1.
It will be carried out between the University Teaching Hospital of Butare (CHUB) and Bushenge Hospital in Rusizi District, Western Province and Nyanza Hospital in the Southern Province.
After the pilot study, the project will extend to four other district hospitals.
“Our target is to have all district hospitals in the country covered,” said Eng. Van Joseph Majyambere, a technician consultant working on the project.
“The extension will depend on the availability of all needed infrastructure including teleconference equipment and a fibre-optic network for a stable internet connection”.
According to Majyambere, a feasibility study was successfully conducted countrywide.
“A team of doctors and technicians is ready to start implementing the project,” he observed.
The project will be monitored by an Italian expert in telemedicine, Dr G. L. Alcaro.
Speaking to The New Times, the Director of CHUB, Dr. André Musemakweli, said e-health will be beneficial to the community as patients will be treated by experts without necessarily meeting with them physically.
“We used to have a high number of patients referred to the national reference hospitals, mainly due to lack of qualified doctors in some domains. After the introduction of telemedicine technologies, we hope to reduce such referrals because patients will be treated by experts without moving from the district where they are admitted,” Majyambere observed.
“It is also cost effective as experts will be able to attend to patients in various hospitals at the same time. This will reduce the cost of transport, both for us and patients.”
He further observed that the technologies will help to reduce the risk of transporting patients over long distances.
Musemakweli, however, added that there was need to boost the internet bandwidth in district hospitals for the effectiveness of the programme.