Telemedicine way to go even after pandemic, experts say


It is cheaper and faster, experts argue.

Friday June 05 2020

E-health players in the country have called for the creation of sustainable telemedicine solutions that will adapt to the digital economy in the post Covid-19 period.

Speaking during a webinar on the role of digital health technology during the pandemic, chief executive of online doctor consultation platform Daktari Africa, Dr Charles Kamotho, stressed the need for quality products that will stand the test of time.

"The online platforms we create must adapt to future techno-economic requirements. We will need new skill sets, to change our mindsets and embrace data integration for the benefit of patients. Doctors and dentists who are possessive of patients will have to change their mentality," he said.

The managing director of e-commerce platform MyDawa, Mr Tony Wood, called on fellow players to ensure contactless delivery of medicines or health equipment besides reducing data costs in accessing e-medicine.

"Right now, we are seeing low quality masks on sale. Some people are selling thermometers for up to four times the recommended price," he said, adding that platforms of the future will need corresponding algorithms to flag down sub-standard products and cushion patients against unscrupulous business people who illegally overcharge buyers.

Panelists emphasized the relevance of pushing for a new education curriculum for digital health training in Kenya to prepare young doctors for the future of medicine. "Telemedicine will be a critical component of medicine in the coming years. We have been working with the Commission for University Education to modernise the medicine curriculum in universities," said Dr Louis Machogu, president of Pharmaceutical Society of Kenya.

With Kenya's millennial population being the most tech savvy, health platforms of the future will have to be more affordable by offering lower consultation fees as well as cutting transport costs across borders.

"This will reduce the patient to doctor ratio which currently stands at 1:17,000 in the country. Local patients should be in a position to get diseases diagnosed and treated by online doctors from any corner of the globe through remote platforms. Our platforms must adapt to these new frontiers," said Dr Kamotho.

Dr Martin Osumba of the Kenya Health Informatics Association said partnerships and collaborations among players in offering digital health were paramount to boosting telemedicine access. "For the good of the people, collaboration is the way forward, especially on data integration," he said.

The webinar, which is held every week and organised by Kenya Private Sector Alliance, seeks to bridge the information gap among Kenyans about various health concerns such as data privacy, online access, charges, interoperability and regulation in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.