Liquid Telecom Kenya has made telemedicine a reality for thousands of patients at the Aga Khan Hospital, Mombasa. Using its high-speed fibre network, Liquid Telecom has connected the main hospital in Mombasa to seven of its outreach centres in the coastal region bringing healthcare closer to the community.
The roll-out of services started last August in a bid to improve access to medical services that would often not be consistently available in some of the more rural communities. This includes online consultations and diagnostic services.
“Travel costs were often prohibitive for patients. For example, patients coming from Voi to Mombasa spend around Sh700 on bus fares, which is a major cost at a time when most of the population struggle to buy even basic medication, and often cannot afford to visit the hospital for follow up appointments,” said Hemed Twahir, Medical Director at Aga Khan Hospital Mombasa.
The hospital’s initiative comes at a time when Kenya is facing a shortage of healthcare specialists especially in dermatology (skin diseases and complications) and Otolaryngology (Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) diseases.
“As healthcare providers strive to make specialists more accessible to patients in an affordable way through telemedicine, Liquid Telecom Kenya has been able to offer both the high-speed internet connectivity and software to enable uninterrupted two-way audio-visual and data communication in a delivery that aligns exactly with our vision of driving digital transformation across Africa,” said Adil Youssefi, CEO of Liquid Telecom Kenya.
“When a patient at a clinic requires specialised attention, the clinicians logs a video request with the specialist and run a video conference with both specialist and patient. They also use our newly installed digital medical equipment to make a diagnosis, with everything about the patient recorded in the hospital records system”, said James Siku, Head of ICT at Aga Khan Hospital Mombasa.
Liquid Telecom’s high-speed Internet network has also enabled the hospital to run e-learning courses covering Continuous Medical Education (CME) and Continuous Nursing Education (CNE) between the main hospital and outreach clinics. It also includes public hospitals such as Rabai, Tsangansini and Mariakani, to exchange knowledge and discuss medical case management – in a collaborative process that drives best-practice treatment plans. The forums also help clinicians earn credits for their professional qualifications and credit transfers under Ministry of Health guidelines.
“We have installed digital stethoscopes and multi-purpose scope equipment for examining a patients’ vitals. With these, specialists will be able to see in real time, say, the condition of the skin, and other vital readings, then offer consultancy and diagnostics,” said Sultana Shermana, Interim CEO of Aga Khan Hospital Mombasa.
The hospital has invested in a state-of-the-art cardiac catheterisation laboratory that is first in the coast province for diagnosis of heart conditions and a 1.5 Tesla Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machine and runs a digital HMIS – managing inpatient and outpatient records, lab results and diagnosis – that is now accessible across all of its clinics and main hospitals.
The telemedicine services focus on family medicine, obstetrician-gynecologist, ear, nose and throat as well as dermatology for Ukunda, Kilifi and Voi clinics being given priority, benefitting a total of up to 200 patients a day. The other outreach clinics are Nyali, Changamwe, Mtwapa, and Bamburi Mwisho.