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Vodacom helps to scale up M-Health in SA

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Eye sight screening, hearing tests, proper heart checks, patient care and round-the-clock pregnancy monitoring – these are just some of the functions that can now be performed with a smart phone. These health solutions were launched at GovTech, running on Vodacom Business’ fixed and mobile infrastructure.
The new solutions, developed in conjunction with Vodacom partners and health experts, are geared to address government’s strategic healthcare goals of increasing life expectancy; decreasing maternal and child mortality; combating HIV and AIDS and decreasing the burden of tuberculosis (TB).
Vodacom Business chief officer, Vuyani Jarana says: “As part of Vodacom’s commitment to help government deliver services to citizens, we have focused on strengthening the use of information in delivering primary healthcare. We are combining the pervasiveness of mobile devices, and accessibility of mobile apps with the expansive coverage of Vodacom’s network to take healthcare directly to the citizen, making services more affordable.”
Offerings include next-generation screening for hearing and sight problems, apps and devices for vitals monitoring of patients. This including a first-of-a-kind pregnancy monitoring device -Sense4Baby-which is used in the case of women with high-risk pregnancies. The device can be used at home or shared by remote clinics thereby reducing the requirement for clinical visits several times a week.
In addition, connected health solutions to help community healthcare workers capture patient information seamlessly with an android application are already being rolled out in clinics in KwaZulu-Natal and the Free State.
Based on a centralised mobile and cloud environment, Vodacom’s m-Health services allow healthcare or technology providers to improve their access to patients. This is done through secure, real-time data collection, information processing, management and reporting. “These are non-capex intensive systems, which are rapidly deployed to broad-based health outreach workers and patients even in the most remote areas,” says Jarana.
Although in South Africa the state contributes about 40% of all expenditure on health, the public health sector is under pressure to deliver services to about 80% of the population. Despite this, most resources are concentrated in the private health sector, which sees to the health needs of the remaining 20% of the population.
Mobile technology could address some of the biggest healthcare challenges, says Jarana. “Our job is to continue to work with the government to develop relevant and innovative solutions that will meet the country’s growing need for quality healthcare services.”