Kenyans embracing medical services through mobile phones

Technology advancements tend to trickle down making life easier. Kenya has made  leaps in enhancing their health service delivery to ensure their citizens benefit in the health sector. These advancements include a medley of several innovations, from developing apps, using cloud computing for data collection, to the promotion of smart phones. Safaricom, the chief telecommunication player in the country, continues to play a vital role in the provisioning of telecom technology and providing services to establish a healthy society. 

Recently, Safaricom  introduced Mobile Health, dubbed mHealth, a technology solution to track the country’s infectious disease activity. Although, the developers didn’t call it healthcare-as-a-service or mention cloud computing, it was a project embracing these concepts.  With these initiatives more than 45 mHealth programs were developed, some are completed and operational. Many of these projects were created by the tech innovation incubator in Nairobi, iHub.  From the many mHealth projects iHub has created; there are some projects that really stand out, including: 

  • AMPATH - Kenya’s government, as a developing country with a number of challenges like HIV and AIDS, has to get creative to ensure its citizens have access to health services without much strain. AMPATH is one of the projects aiding this course. The project uses open source medical records platform (OpenMRS) and SMS messaging meant to remind HIV patients to take their medicine and provides a call-in for questions about the medication or treatments.
  • Daktari  -  Daktari is a Swahili word meaning Doctor. This is a mobile service provider’s call-a-doctor service that provides a phone-in hot-line for medical questions. In a country with only one doctor per every 6000 citizens, such phone-in health care can more effectively leverage the meager healthcare resources available. 
  • MedAfrica App - This is another innovation meant to provide doctors or dentists phone numbers and menus to find basic healthcare and diagnostic information in Kenya.

Apart from these, there are many other mHealth projects on the drawing board including a national medical records (EMR) service, medical health payment cards loaded up using mobile payments and others. Cloud based solutions are inexpensive, fit well with modern technology that pervades the country, and can be scaled rapidly to cover its citizens. With these initiatives, Kenya is becoming a leading edge provider of mHealth solutions based on the cloud.