Telemedicine in KUTRRH

Technology has had a wonderful impact on healthcare over the last century. Walking into a hospital from the comfort of your home or workplace has become as easy as clicking a button. This was unimaginable a couple of years ago when hospital visits were synonymous with long expensive trips and hours of waiting at hospital receptions.

Overcoming barriers to healthcare access has been significantly reduced by telemedicine. Implementation of telemedicine is one of the ways of ensuring Universal Health Care is an achievable outcome in Kenya.

Moreover, patients have become key players in the delivery of health care services as they are more aware and in control of their health status and outcomes.

Remote Monitoring Model

The Remote Monitoring Model of telemedicine has been adopted by KUTRRH in the management of COVID-19 patients who suffer from mild disease. This model includes self-monitoring or self-testing from the comfort of your home.

Monitoring and testing are based on patient conducted tests and observations using digital equipment such as thermometers and pulse oximeters. It has been shown widely that this model is effective in the management of public health emergencies such as the most recent COVID-19 pandemic (Kichloo et al.,2020).

KUTRRH has been able to offer timely synchronous comfortable and convenient services to Kenyan citizens through telemedicine applied in Homebased Care. Through this, complications have been picked early and costs averted that would have otherwise been used in care.

Self-monitoring of symptoms and vitals body observations is proving to have many benefits in the control of the COVID-19 pandemic. Empowering citizens to self-monitor health parameters such as temperature and oxygen is a necessity in decreasing the spread of infectious diseases and controlling disease outbreaks.

The Economics

Homebased care through telehealth reduces the costs involved in achieving health care access to different health care needs. At KUTRRH, every patient enrolled in the program gets the opportunity to interact with doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, nutritionists, counsellors all under one package.

These are services, which would otherwise be too costly to access in terms of time and finances spent to meet each of these cadres independently.

With the COVID-19 pandemic came panic, which led many patients and hospitals alike to spend more than
would have on patient care. Jeffery et al. (2020), correctly observed that with COVID-19 emergency department visits decreased while hospital admissions increased greatly in 5 states in the United States.

The situation is no different in Kenya where the COVID-19 pandemic was marked by a lack of hospital bed spaces countrywide. This most definitely increases the cost of care. Homebased Care through telemedicine offers a plausible solution to this by reducing hospital admissions, reducing the cost of in-patient medications, and reducing human resources needed in caring for COVID-19 patients.

The Opportunity:

While there is still much fear among health service providers and patients alike over the safety and efficacy
of telehealth, KUTRRH has bravely paddled the waters and navigating through all the challenges presented
by this new field. Concerns about patient data safety, reliability are paramount to the organization and much investment is in place to ensure safe record-keeping through a Hospital Management Information System.

This field remains largely unlegislated. Through the Patients’ rights charter, the hospital ensures that none of the patients’ rights is violated in the delivery of home-based care through telemedicine. By proper documentation and refining of its processes, the Homebased Care Department hopes to contribute to
the legislation of this field of medicine in future.

Homebased care is a field ripe for research in the country. The Homebased care department provides patients opportunities to participate in ongoing clinical trials in the hospital. The largest opportunity that exists in this field is for the patients.

The opportunity to get affordable, convenient and quality healthcare is at the disposal of all patients countrywide and beyond the borders of our nation. KUTRRH Homebased Care department promises to meet your health care needs right where you are. This is your opportunity.

References

Kichloo, A., Albosta, M., Dettloff, K., Wani, F., El-Amir, Z., Singh, J., Aljadah, M., Chakinala, R., Kanugula, A., Solanki, S. and Chugh, S., 2020. Telemedicine, the current COVID-19 pandemic and the future: a narrative review and perspectives moving forward in the USA. Family Medicine and Community Health, 8(3), p.e000530.

Jeffery, M., D’Onofrio, G., Paek, H., Platts-Mills, T., Soares, W., Hoppe, J., Genes, N., Nath, B. and Melnick, E., 2020. Trends in Emergency Department Visits and Hospital Admissions in Health Care Systems in 5 States in the First Months of the COVID-19 Pandemic in the US. JAMA Internal Medicine, 180(10), p.1328.

By: Dr. Diane Atieno, Home Based Care