The use of ICT has been designated as one of the key enablers of transforming the local economy. Consequently the government has developed within its overall ICT architecture a component which caters for the use of ICT in boosting service delivery within the practice of medicine. Tele-medicine has been the ICT component developed by Rwanda Development Board’s IT department to assist in this endeavor.
Among the local practitioners countrywide, King Faisal has moved in to take advantage of this national platform to boost its service deliveries within its working sites.
“It is very important to share information.
By RBD developing this platform has allowed medical professionals to be able to serve more than one facility at a time”, Dr. Innocent Nyaruhirira the CEO of King Faisal Hospital said. “We are able with this form of technology to go beyond the boundaries of this country”.
Dr. Nyaruhirira revealed that currently the platform has enabled the major health facilities in the country to be linked. With this professionals can now share experiences and knowledge within the entire industry.
The hospital chief gave an example to illustrate this point. “Sharing of radiology is possible courtesy of this platform whereby we are able to cut off intermediaries and this helps to boost the practice”.
Dr. Nyaruhirira said that telemedicine has various components. E-learning is one such component. In this the national health care professionals can assist with transfer of knowledge to the students in institutions such as Butare referral hospital and CHUK in Kigali City. e-diagnosis is another component whereby practice of medicine can be enhanced.
“For instance a fracture of clavicle which has not consolidated within the normal time can be rectified using this system.
The question will be to seek for a third opinion from other sources. With this platform we can get this sort of third opinion on the way forward,” he added. e-mentoring is also another application.
“Within this we are able to get real time opinion at the operating theatre on cases on hand”. He revealed that this is more interesting when a doctor is doing procedures such as internal surgeries of any kind.
“We do that with the use of mini-invasive surgery which is available at King Faisal”.
“As a healthcare provider we have embraced this concept which has enabled us to offer interactive healthcare through the use of modern technology and telecommunications,” he added.
The practice of telemedicine has been in use in Rwanda since 2004. Initially expatriates came in to assist. However local expertise has since been acquired meaning knowledge transfer has been successful.
As such medical professionals within different fields are widely using it. Close to $1 million has been used by King Faisal to put up its own internal system.
Another $1 million has been spent on the migration process from the old technology to the new.
“This is a very interesting angle in medicine. Even our mobile phones and other simple gadgets can assist”, he pointed out.
Regionally, Dr. Nyaruhirira said, Rwanda is very much ahead with the use of telemedicine. He added that the use of telemedicine is highly inspired by the Government support it has received.
Dr. Richard Gakuba an e-health specialist which bridges ICT with medicine said, “Part of my function is to assist and develop ICT systems to enable core medical personnel to work more efficiently”.
“I do this at the national level. At King Faisal I am part of the team that develops the telemedicine system that links the three national hospitals”.
Initially Gakuba contends that the system was ad hoc but this has since been formalized along the strides the country has acquired in its development within ICT.
Yvonne Collins the information technology and statistics manger at King Faisal said that the hospital has been running a centralised management system for the last 10 years. She however revealed that the hospital administration made a decision to transit to a new system. The new system will automate the hospital administrative functions from a paper based to a paperless system.
“The end result is to foster better service delivery. We anticipate seeing discharge time cut from 6 to 8 hours to 30 minutes”, Yvonne added the transitioning project is a highly ambitious but achievable target.
“The ICT industry is booming in Rwanda and this will definitely impact positively in to the practice of medicine locally with this kind of system development”.