Transparent collaboration fast-tracks healthcare service delivery

Transparent collaboration between the public and the private sectors can lead to the development and innovative use of new and emerging technologies, such as cloud, mobile phones and new diagnostics, to support the efficient delivery of health services.

This is according to AWS, which is set to host a webinar on innovation-enhanced service delivery in the health sector in South Africa, on 22 September. Zubin Chagpar: Head of MEA, AWS Public Sector Sales, says the National Digital Health Strategy for South Africa, 2019 – 2024, indicates that South Africa has fully embraced the potential of digital health technologies to improve the quality and coverage of healthcare, increase access to services and skills, and promote positive changes in health behaviours to prevent the onset of acute and chronic diseases. Through collaboration between the public and private sector, progress can be fast-tracked, AWS believes.

Chagpar says collaboration in combating the COVID-19 pandemic is a case in point: “In the research space, we have seen the rapid adoption of cloud technologies which are helping to speed up research into COVID-19 and rapidly speed up the search for a vaccine. With our Diagnostic Development Initiative and AWS COVID-19 Data Lake we have been directly contributing to this positive transformation.”

AWS technologies are also helping medicine dispensers deliver improved care to patients. Chagpar elaborates: “Right to Care is an innovative healthcare provider, which has partnered with the National Department of Health for the dispensing, distribution, and collection of medicine to treat patients. The reason this is important is that patients in rural communities spend long hours in queues at public clinic pharmacies waiting to collect medicine.

The resulting effect of long waiting times is that patients abandon medicine collection, which leads to not taking their medication and ongoing health issues. With AWS, Right to Care runs its flagship product, the Pharmacy Dispensing Unit (PDU), which is an ATM-like innovation using electronic and robotic technology to dispense medication. To empower patients to adhere to their treatment and manage their own healthcare, the PDU enables remote medicine dispensing and live patient counselling through a virtual consultation between the patient and the pharmacist via “tele-pharmacy”.

Amazon S3 and AWS Lambda hosts and manages patient data and links the patient to a remote pharmacist via an audio-video link. Through Amazon RDS (SQL), Right to Care was able to implement an SMS system to keep users informed about their next medicine collection dates – this promoted patient retention and assisted in the early identification and intervention for patients at risk of non-adherence to treatment.

The system resulted in positive clinical outcomes, such as the management of diseases by the National Health Department and reduction in patients at risk of missing treatment and effective patient data management. PDU collection sites are placed in communities at central, easily accessible locations, such as shopping centres on main transport routes, and are open for extended hours, including weekends and public holidays so patients can quickly and conveniently collect their repeat prescriptions, further reducing patient waiting time at public clinics from four hours to 45 minutes.

The AWS webinar on innovation-enhanced service delivery in the health sector will be held on 22 September, highlighting the crucial role of public and private sector partnerships in the improvement of innovation and service delivery in the health sector. To register, click here.