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Nakuru unveils mobile app to address non-communicable diseases

The County Government of Nakuru has unveiled a mobile app to help in treatment and management of diabetes and hypertension.

Healthcare services incorporated in the digital system dubbed ‘Empower Health’ created through a partnership between the devolved unit, the Ministry of Health, Novo Nordisk and Medtronic Labs include consultations, tests, treatment and monitoring of the important medical conditions according to national and best practice guidelines.

County Director for Administration and Planning, Dr Benedict Osore said by improving coordination between physicians and patients, the app will enable more customized care, which he noted was vital with regard to managing diabetes and hypertension.

“With the mobile app physicians and patients aren’t simply relying on in-person appointments which may be spaced apart by months – there is continuous communication. Self-monitoring of blood pressure and sugar levels at home can improve treatment adherence and outcomes in patients, this app will improve access to care for patients in the local community,” he said.

Dr Osore indicated that through technology physicians will be able to track patients on medication and whether their condition is under control while also identifying those defaulting on medication.

According to the Director all the relevant information and a historical view of the individual patient are easily accessed by the healthcare workers attending to them.

Once the clients log on to the app, they will be offered the possibility to make use of a self-management application where they will input their blood pressure and blood sugar levels.

They will then be offered feedback based on their results which includes alerts to visit the nearest health facility if their sugar or pressure levels are out of range. The app also offers push notifications to remind users when to check their blood sugar next.

Blood pressure and blood sugar levels readings are keyed into the mobile Smartphone that links to the healthcare providers at the health centres. If the readings are not within normal, the doctors are alerted and are able to call either to give instructions on what remedial action to take or to have the patient go to the hospital.

Over 60 healthcare providers have been trained on the use of the ‘Empower Health’ system that also provides integrated, facility-level and community-level tools and information to improve disease awareness, support screening and referral activities aiming to reduce the burden of non-communicable.

“The app enhances patient engagement by allowing them to take an active role in managing their health. It gives them a feeling of empowerment and encourages them to follow through on the patient self-care that is often a key part of improved outcomes in treatment and management of diabetes and hypertension,” the Director added

While stating that the user-friendly ‘Empower Health’ app will help underserved populations, particularly low-income families and adults over the age of 65, Dr Osore noted most of the interventions and monitoring through the system can be handled by support staff, which frees up more time for physicians. This he said will ultimately save money for patients while allowing physicians to see more patients.

“The technology makes things simpler. You get an SMS notification when your patient is not doing well and you are able to follow up remotely,” said Dr Osore

Armed with the app, physicians can easily log into the system and get in touch with patients in need of better attention, and book them to see a specialist at a health facility.

“Access to phone and mobile phone penetration in the country is high and so we will also be able to have real-time data on use of mobile technology and how it can be used to manage chronic diseases,” he said.

The prevalence of hypertension according to the Ministry of Health STEPS Report is said to have increased over the last 20 years. More than half (56%) of Kenyans have never measured blood pressure and only one in five (22.3%) of those previously diagnosed with hypertension are on treatment.

By Anne Mwale 

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