Using technology to improve healthcare

July 2, 2009
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, The third Annual AFRIHealth Conference – to be held between July 14 and 16 in Nairobi – aims to bring together researchers, medical practitioners, ICT personnel, hospital and clinic administrators, government officials and medical insurance industry representatives to share information on developments in the use of ICT to improve patient safety and enhance healthcare delivery in Africa, especially East Africa.

This year’s theme is: “ICT in Healthcare – Are We Doing Enough for Africa?”

ICT in healthcare, otherwise known as e-health, is the focus of the Ministry of Medical Services as the Government increases its activity level to improve healthcare delivery throughout the country. Strategic planning is well underway and selected task forces have been set up. The question many people are asking is: How is ICT applied in healthcare?

ICT in healthcare takes many forms. Simple Health Management Information Systems (HMIS) are used to manage hospitals and clinics, monitor patient expenses, control pharmaceutical stocks and the dispensing of pharmaceuticals. Healthcare ICT includes the use of mobile telephones to access medical data, to remind patients to take their drugs and numerous other applications presently in development. The most sophisticated applications of ICT are to be found in Telemedicine where images of x-rays or disease are transferred electronically to an expert for evaluation and opinion.

Telemedicine also includes distance monitoring of surgical operations by experts using cameras on site and voice communication to enable these experts provide advice for complicated surgery.

This year’s conference provides a forum where all the above techniques will be discussed. In addition, the conference format provides for a series of workshops on the first day to hear about Government
e-strategy development, Public Private Partnerships in healthcare, Health Management Systems and – what promises to be a flourishing discussion – the application of VSAT vs Optic Fibre technologies to support the e-health strategies.

Emphasis in the second and third day of the conference will be on Telemedicine, with the underlying question being ‘Is Africa ready for this?’

Other topics on the second day include; Mobile telephony in healthcare with four case studies from around Africa – a Kenyan wireless communication project for HIV/AIDS patients, Internet learning for nurses in rural areas, and the benefits of ICT in development of the National Hospital Insurance Fund administration in Kenya,

The Keynote address will be delivered by Dr Peter Drury of CISCO. Other speakers are from South Africa, Switzerland, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Holland, Malawi, Tanzania and Kenya.

Visit www.afri-health.com to read more about the conference and view the detailed programme.

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