By Ngumbo Njoroge
Whether one has recently been diagnosed with cervical cancer or has have been living with a condition for a while, getting pertinent medical records organized can seem unnerving.
A recently launched online platform is providing a link between caregivers and patients, securely storing and sharing medical information digitally.
Medbook Africa, an online health management system, launched by Medbook in collaboration with Strathmore University’s @iLabAfrica helps doctors manage their patients’ records and their practice.
According to Marion Wambui, Medbook Africa’s Communication Manager, the platform has a predesigned records template for doctors to record health information and do billings.
“It is also a platform for doctors to advertise their services and for patients to find doctors,” she said, adding that the system is linked to Google maps, allowing patients to search for the nearest doctor.
The app, with 70,000 registered users currently, is supposed to help patients find doctors, view their qualifications, chat with doctors online, book appointments online directly to the doctors’ diaries and access their medical records.
“When a doctor has keyed in a patient’s health information, the patient is also able to keep track of their records and in the event that they have changed their doctor, they would avoid the inconvenience of having to go back to their old doctor to get their medical records.”
Wambui added that the convenience of the digital health records reduces the chances of misdiagnosis, enabling doctors to interpret their patients’ medical history.
The platform is designed such that only registered doctors can key in medical records, allowing the end user (patients) to only view their medical summary. The system is linked to that of the Kenya Medical and Practitioners Board (KMPD), enabling developers to ensure that anyone who signs up as a doctor is actually registered by the board.
“With 70,000 users, our goal is to get one million users. Our goal this year was to get 100,000 users on the platform,” she noted.
The system currently has 700 registered doctors, majority of whom are in private practice but the goal is to get to all healthcare providers, according to Wambui.
Majority of the registered doctors are in Nairobi but the system rollout targets doctors in other regions of the country.
The platform is designed to allow users to sign up as patients and doctors.
“If it’s a health institution, it is the doctor who signs up first. They will then set up the health institution through their profile,”
It also serves as a built-in data analytics platform with immensely innovative capabilities. This means the platform can predict, prevent or at the very least, minimize the physical and financial burden that epidemics and outbreaks cause countrywide.
A study by a group of researchers from the Centre for Research in Evidence-Based Practice at Bond University in Queensland, published in Nature’s new Digital Medicine journal found that smartphone popularity and mHealth apps provide a huge potential to improve health outcomes for millions of patients.
Medbook, a universal health platform, provides a diverse pool of medical practitioners as well as pairing patients with insurance providers to meet their precise needs.
Comparing the system to others available, Wambui said Medbook is affordable, costing doctors a subscription fee of Sh10, 000 per year while patients pay Sh500 per year.
“Patients are excited to know it’s easy to find a doctor, and view their qualifications, without relying on the recommendations of friends or family,” she added.
To register, a doctor needs to input his Name (in order of how he\she registered with the board) and the doctor’s registration number. And to activate their profile, the doctor would need to click on the link from Medbook sent to the email that they signed up the account with.
In addition, the platform offers a billing feature to record and store financial information for easy financial management.
“When a new patient books an appointment with a new doctor, the patient can share their medical records with the doctor therefore ensuring the doctor is well prepared with a good understanding of the new patient’s medical history even before the patient arrives for their appointment.”
Medbook is backed by bank grade security and encryption developed by IBM and Strathmore, with unique user names and passwords allowing an account to be viewable only by the account holder.