The power of cloud computing and affordable Internet connectivity is helping save lives in the rural Eastern Cape.
Thanks to a new app, medical staff at the Qunu Clinic near Mthatha are able to provide quality healthcare to a greater number of patients, in a more affordable manner.

The app developed by Phulukisa Health Solutions, enables primary healthcare workers to remotely manage patients. Health workers electronically capture the medical information of patients such as their weight, body mass index, and blood pressure using Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and store these medical records in the cloud, thanks to Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform.

These metrics feed into an algorithm which alerts the health workers of abnormalities and enable them to more quickly and accurately triage and escalate serious health conditions.

The use of the cloud also significantly reduces patients’ waiting time at Qunu Clinic as their files are always accessible, and no time will be lost searching for physical files, or gathering information that has been lost.

Another consequence of storing this kind of data in the cloud is that it will allow for continuity across different clinics and different clinicians, since each clinic and specialist will not have to open their own file on the patient.

To make such a project a reality, stable connectivity is needed, as well as ample capacity for storage and analytics.

Usually the ability to access cloud services and the associated data costs would make digital transformation like this difficult, especially for a public health organisation.

Microsoft South Africa partnered with Internet Service Provider Brightwave to bring WiFi – and, with the recent publishing of TVWS regulation, TVWS based on broadband access, to various areas across South Africa; including the Eastern Cape, where the Qunu Clinic is amongst the list of organisations benefitting from this partnership.

Brightwave, in partnership with Microsoft South Africa, is bringing Internet connectivity to unserved and underserved communities, as part of its affordable access initiative, Airband.

The Airband programme seeks to support, accelerate, and scale innovative business developing technologies that enable local communities to utilise cloud-based services, as well as business models that reduce the cost of Internet access to help more people participate in the digital economy.

“Fast and reliable internet is essential to unlocking the benefits of Cloud computing, like digital healthcare, online education and precision agriculture,” says Brad Smith, president of Microsoft. “Our partnership with Brightwave and Phulukisa Health Solutions shows the profound and positive impact technology can have on even a remote community.”