|Organization Name:||Health Partners International Canada|
|Project Title:||Piloting a Telemedicine Program (Kibera, Kenya)|
|Purpose of Investment:||To provide medical consultations for residents of Kibera, Kenya (a slum in Nairobi) through videos calls with general practitioners.|
Access to healthcare for many people in low-income countries is challenging. Patients who live in poor, remote communities often have to travel considerable distances to receive health services. The high cost of transportation, time required to travel to the nearest health facility, and stigma associated with certain diseases make it difficult, if not impossible, for them to access necessary care. According to the Global Health Workforce Alliance, about one billion people today will never see a health worker in their entire lives. Furthermore, health human resources shortcomings are significant. The World Health Organization estimates that 7.2 million more doctors and nurses are currently needed to provide essential health services worldwide – a shortage that could reach 13 million by 2035 if left unchecked. Not only is there a global shortage of health workers, but existing health workers are also often clustered in urban centers and more affluent areas, leaving the neediest rural and remote populations underserved.
Telemedicine is a novel solution to some of these challenges. Telemedicine uses information and communications technology to connect community health workers and patients to skilled health professionals without the need for an in-person visit. With telemedicine, health professionals are able to evaluate, diagnose and provide clinical services to patients remotely via video/audio connections.
In this proposed pilot, HPIC will work with a third-party company that specializes in telemedicine to pilot a telemedicine application in Kenya. Community health workers will be equipped with a tablet and a software app that will allow them and their patients to have a live consultation with a doctor or a nurse at a health facility. With the help of a community health worker and a digital stethoscope, the virtual health provider will be able to do most of what any in-person health professional can. Equipped with the same software, the doctor or the nurse will be able to coach community health workers and advise on the treatment of their patients, helping them manage cases that are beyond their ability, as well as avoiding unnecessary referrals and reducing the burden of travel on patients and families. The app will incorporate store-and-forward features, live consultations, image management and other features that will bring patients, community health workers and health professionals to a single platform.
The project is expected to help patients overcome geographical barriers and increase their access to timely health services. It will also enable community health workers to overcome the isolation that they often face while serving in remote areas, and will help them improve their skills and the services they offer. We anticipate that this pilot will start in January 2020 with completion within 12 months. The grant requested from Stronger Together is $50,000. This will cover the cost of the pilot including necessary equipment and software.
- By September 2020, we will have piloted a telemedicine program that will bring healthcare closer to people living in rural, remote and underserved communities. The pilot project will take place in the Kibera slum in Nairobi, Kenya.
- By December 2020, we will have collected and analyzed the pilot project data, including utilization data and user feedback. A final report will be prepared outlining the pilot results, successes, challenges and lessons learned, and presenting recommendations for scale-up in the subsequent years.
It is worth noting that this pilot will be only one component of a larger program that HPIC is already committed to implement in 2020. The funding requested from Stronger Together will only cover the cost of the telemedicine component. The other activities of the program will be covered by another funder.
*Content provided by Health Partners International Canada