With the rapid spread of COVID-19 and high demand of medical responses, we see governments, hospitals, doctors and individuals struggling to find possible detection and protection against this pandemic disease that is disrupting the social, economic and environmental issues.
Unfortunately in emerging markets like Tanzania more than 12 million patients travel long distances to get access to healthcare services especially hospitals, doctor rooms and pharmacy because of lack of reliable and affordable telecommunication ways to connect and social gap that exist between doctors and patients. When these patients especially vulnerable groups including pregnant mothers, women, girls, children, old people and people with disabilities arrive at the healthcare facilities (hospital or pharmacy) they find those places congested and crowded with other patients which makes them vulnerable to contaminating pandemic diseases like COVID-19 and Hepatitis because patients sit close to each other while sharing toilets and chair arm-sits. The problem of waiting for healthcare services leaves more than 9 million patients unattended and untreated which results to almost 1 million death every year. And this is because of lack of reliable and affordable telemedicine delivery services that will help to extend access to digital healthcare management tools as well as reduce the doctor-to-patient ratio of 1:50, 000 yearly.
In Tanzania to be specific, patients find it time wasting and energy consuming to travel long distances to check their health after some signs and symptoms of COVID-19, with very limited government-imposed restrictions in place. As of April, 29th 2019, the virus is present reaching in rural areas with little or no healthcare services. Less than 50% of hospitals, pharmacy and doctor rooms as well as 9% of community health workers are able to provide reliable, transparent, consistent and affordable digital healthcare service to patients.
To respond to this COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, particularly pregnant mothers, women, young people and people with disabilities, we bring and propose Afya Bora USSD software application that data powered to provide electronic medical appointment/booking and healthcare marketplace that enable patients to directly connect with the nearest professional healthcare practitioners (doctors, community health workers, pharmacy and hospitals) instantly. The purpose of Afya Bora is to inspire and empower both patients and healthcare service providers through big data in the health industry, and the ability to access reliable and affordable digital healthcare services in the region. Afya Bora is revolutionizing the way patients and healthcare schedule medical consultation and online diagnosis. This simplified USSD mobile application will enable patients to find, compare and book digital medical consultation from the nearest healthcare practitioners.
And this is how the simplified USSD mobile application works;
Whenever the patients especially pregnant mothers, women and young people feel ill or need to check their health status they access Afya Bora on both a smartphone as an application and a normal mobile phone in form of the Unstructured Supplementary Systematic Data (USSD) to directly connect patients with healthcare practitioners to provide diagnosis to the patient body.
Afya Bora is an offline USSD mobile application that is accessed by any mobile device by the consumer and if he or she is at risk of COVID-19. The user/patient use the USSD mobile application will be used to book for a medical consultation, online diagnosis that can record the users temperature, dry cough and shortness of breath as the main symptoms. The mobile application offers the user the opportunity to select the nearest and well recommended healthcare practitioners assisted by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning to provide the quickest geographical location of the healthcare practitioners. This data-driven intervention platform enables both patients and healthcare practitioners to have access and track the patient healthcare data in a precise and resilient manner. Once the data ins stored on both the patients and healthcare practitioners profiles - they are both able to transfer that data to different healthcare practitioners including pharmacy, hospitals and community health workers for further testing for COVID-19.
The advancement in mobile software technologies and healthcare innovation has presented this opportunity to narrow the widening healthcare gap that exist between patients and healthcare practitioners in order to provide reliable and affordable healthcare services. In that respect we see that the health delivery practices are shifting toward online and remote delivery service. And the reasons for the shift are the possibilities of managing chronic diseases, controlling healthcare delivery services and increasing the provision of quality digital healthcare services.
The growth of mobile software applications have accelerated new telemedicine and information technology (IT) solutions that extend access to secure, reliable and affordable digital health care delivery scene, and these solutions are supported by Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning through data in order to provide solid proof for the value of the platform.