• Articles (2,438)
  • Future health data systems need more of these

    On March 14th I spoke at the ANOVA data summit in Johannesburg. I was asked to talk about the future of health data and its systems. Earlier that morning Stephen Hawking had passed away leaving the scientific community weighing the enormity of one man’s extraordinary contribution. Some of his famous words repeated in my mind, including his terse challenge, “The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge”, an apt warning for those of us in the information space.

    As health systems decisions become more data driven, demands for enough, quality data, and ways to make sense of it, increase too. Expectations are high.

    “It has become increasingly clear that Universal Health Coverage cannot be achieved without the support of eHealth” WHO suggested in the third global survey on eHealth and AMIA proposes that “access to broadband is, or soon will become, a social determinant of health”.

    In African countries, competition for resources is fuelled by smaller budgets trying to address substantial service gaps. Decisions to invest in eHealth and data need to be taken with considerable care, and must be economically sound, affordable, and evidence-based.

    Data systems should be built in steps that are sustainable and yield information that can be trusted. Emphasis should be on integration and consolidation and embracing emerging opportunities. It needs sound strategic planning too, with emphasis on:

    More substantive partnering among stakeholders Better agreement on architectural frameworks and evolving standardsMore opportunities for data collection from individuals, through mobile phones and other devices that become ubiquitousExploring new approaches to unique identifiers, including understanding the potential role of a medical blockchainIncorporating AI and machine learning to augment progress.

    Alongside these, cyber-security requires constant vigilance.

    Acfee is building a toolkit of good practice for help knowledge workers navigate these issues and make good choices.

    Talking about the future is fun but too often gratuitous. Hawking pointed out that “Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change”. The ability of our health data to provide value is also about our ability to adapt to health’s changing needs, to ensure that our efforts remain relevant and support impact.

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    Sean is CTO at HISP-SA and Chairperson of Acfee. HISP-SA supports the South African Department of Health in its efforts to build information systems that support health transformation.

    Acfee advances eHealth’s health strengthening and transformation role for Africa through the eHealth Network for Africa blog and eHealthAFRO stakeholder platforms, engagement with African Ministries of Health and other regional eHealth leadership groups, and the collection and sharing of knowledge and tools.

  • Data accuracy: another use case for blockchain

    As blockchain technology continues to excite the healthcare industry with opportunities for better access to healthcare data, data security and efficiency, 5 companies have banded together to explore another use case for it. 

    Many managed care organisations, health systems, physicians, and other healthcare stakeholders currently maintain separate copies of healthcare provider data.  Reconciling differences in this data can be a time-consuming and expensive processes.  Blockchain could help bring down administrative costs by ensuring data is complete and accurate across all parties.

    Humana, MultiPlan, Optum, Quest Diagnostics and UnitedHealthcare recently announced a cooperative pilot program to use blockchain technology to share healthcare provider data across organisations.  This aims to improve accuracy, streamline administrative activities and improve access to care. It will also examine whether sharing healthcare provider data inputs and changes made by parties across a blockchain can reduce operational costs and improve data quality. 

    With technology's rapid advances, it's critical that African countries make room for these types of emerging opportunities in their eHealth strategies. Along with rigorous prospective assessments to ensure viability and sustainability.

  • AlienVault insider’s guide to cyber-security incident response can help

    Preventing cyber-security breaches is a top priority. On its own, it’s not enough. Cyber-criminals are at least one step ahead, so sound preparation for an incident response’s vital.  A book from Alien Vault can help. It's an Insider’s Guide to Incident Response in one eBook! 

    It provides a detailed insight into the fundamental strategies of efficient and effective incident response that security teams need. The goal should be to do more with less to deal with the rapidly changing cyber-threats. The guide deals with: 

    Arming and aiming an incident response teamIncident response processes and proceduresTypes of cyber-security incidentsIncident response toolsIncident response training

    Combating cyber-threats needs teams with a strong mental constitution.  Techniques are needed too. The guide sets out how to build an incident response plan and develop a team that has the right tools and training.

    Observe, Orient, Decide and Act (OODA) loop’s the core methodology.  It’s a cycle developed by military strategist and United States Air Force Colonel John Boyd. He used it to help to prepare for combat operations processes. It’s now applied to understand commercial activities. 

    Benjamin Franklin, the 18th century polymath promoted the original concept. “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” It applies to eHealth too.

  • e-Hospital portals can improve hospitals

    The world we live in has seen a revolution of digitisation in mobile phones, banks and the internet are examples.  People want to avoid or reduce the time they spend doing things manually, and would rather opt for using the latest technology.

    An e-Hospital portal is an example. It’s a project introduced by the government of India. An aim's to use technology to empower people and help them connect to areas of health.

    e-Hospital enables the public to book outpatient appointments, view diagnostic reports, check the availability of blood, lab reports and pay their fees. Using this type of eHealth offers quicker access, remote diagnosis and faster medical prescriptions. Time taken to receive treatment or see a medical expert is expected to be reduced considerably.

    Services provided by an e-Hospital portal maximises the contribution of existing healthcare professionals. It enables networks of nurses and doctors to achieve more efficient treatment and monitoring.

    The large scale of the project offers an insight for Africa’s eHealth strategies. Planning directly for national coverage can offer bigger scale benefits, even where, as in India, roll out's phased.

  • mPowering frontline health workers’ launches WASH health domain on ORB

    Exhortations to people to wash their hands frequently have a long history. Continuous, accessible reminders are still essential.  Handwashing’s the single most cost-effective intervention to prevent pneumonia and diarrhoea in children. It reduces infections during pregnancy and childbirth too.

    In the eHealth age, there are more sophisticated ways of disseminating the advice than numerous signs with lots of slogans. mPowering Frontline Health Workers is launching a new domain using on Object Request Broker (ORB) for Water, Sanitations and Hygiene (WASH). It contains training materials for health workers. ORB’s middleware that allows program calls from one computer to another. It relies on a computer networks.

    The need’s clear. In 2013, WHO and The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health (PMNCH)  identified the challenge of diarrhoea. Diarrhoeal disease is the second leading cause of death and a leading cause of malnutrition in children under five. It’s in children under five years old

     years old. It is both preventable and treatable. There’s an estimated 1.7 billion cases of diarrhoeal disease every year, leading to about 760,000 children under five dying. A significant proportion of diarrhoeal disease can be prevented through safe drinking-water and adequate sanitation and hygiene.

    Another report says an estimated 10-15% of maternal deaths are due to two causes. One’s infections linked to unhygienic conditions during labour. The other’s poor hygiene practices during six weeks after birth. 

    ORB’s WASH materials provide training and information on waste management, urban water supplies, sanitation planning, environmental health. All content’s quality assured to ensure accuracy and relevance for health workers. It’s accessible from mobile devices. 

    mPowering Frontline Health Workers is an initiative of USAID and the mHealth Alliance. It has six goals:

    Crowdsource innovative multi?media health contentCreate an online library of downloadable digital health content for organisations in developing countriesProduce a digital dictionary to enable integration and standardised reporting across several mHealth applicationsAccelerate the sustainable expansion of mHealth for frontline health workers in more than three developing countriesRigorously evaluate partnership impactShare experiences through a virtual global learning platform. 

    An estimate of 42% of global deaths from diarrhoea of children under five are in Africa. That’s about 320,000 children. mPowering Frontline Health Workers has an essential role.

  • Philips introduces AI tools for healthcare efficiency

    HIMSS Conference and Exhibition is synonymous for sharing new innovations and showcasing next world technology.  At HIMMS18 in Las Vegas, Phillips announced the launch of a new set of tools that supports the progressive adoption of analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) in key healthcare domains.

    Their HealthSuite Insights gives data scientists, software developers, clinicians and healthcare providers access to advanced analytic resources to compile and analyse healthcare data.  It also offers tools and technologies to build, maintain, deploy and scale AI-based solutions. 

    AI-based solutions have great potential to improve patient outcomes and healthcare efficiency. However, developing and deploying AI solutions for healthcare use cases can be time consuming, resource intensive and expensive.  Philips’ Insights Marketplace can help with this.  The Insights Marketplace will provide the healthcare industry’s first ecosystem where curated AI assets from Philips and others are readily available for license. 

    Philip’s HealthSuite Insights and Insights Marketplace may help accelerate Africa’s eHealth development. African countries are increasingly aware of the necessity of technology in improving the performance of healthcare.  Some parts of Africa have already started integrating artificial intelligence in their healthcare systems.

  • Facebook’s using AI to prevent suicides

    According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), a suicide occurs every 40 seconds globally.  Social, psychological, cultural and other factors can interact to lead a person to suicidal behavior.  Facebook believes that they are uniquely positioned to help combat suicides amongst adolescents and its users.

    They’re using AI and smart algorithms to detect suicidal tendencies and patterns.  The AI software scans users’ messages and posts for signs of suicide, such as asking someone if they are troubled.  Facebook already has tools in place for people to report concerns about friend's who may be considering self-harm, but the new AI software can speed the process and even detect signs people may overlook. 

    Posts that are flagged as worrisome are communicated to first-responders.  It’s also dedicating more human moderators to suicide prevention, training them to deal with the cases 24/7. They have partnered with organisations like Save.org, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and Forefront from to provide resources to at-risk users and their networks. 

    Ubiquitous technologies often come with unrealised responsibilities.  Facebook’s demonstrating they're willing to take on these responsibilities and use their platform for greater social and health benefits.

  • Apple health app stores personal medical information

    Giving patients access to their medical records is an increasing priority. It can help them to manage their conditions and comply with medication and treatment requirements

    Apple is determined to make people’s lives easier. It’s created a new app that people can use on their iPhones to access, view and store their medical records on their person. Data on the app includes; allergies, test results, prescription drug list, immunization records or general health histories. Patients can also add files to the menu, provided they comply with Clinical Documented Architecture (CDA).

    Medical records information’s transmitted electronically from participating providers to patients’ iPhones. It needs patients to opt into the service via the health app and be able to browse through their data as well as receive new notifications when updated.  

    Jeff Williams, Apple’s chief Operating Officer (COO), assures that the app’s data is password protected an encrypted. It even denies Apple access to the information unless it is shared by patients.

    An announcement by Apple says patients with multiple chronic conditions will probably have considerable benefit.

    There’s a tricky bit about portals and patients accessing their medical records. A study reported on eHNA found for some patients, access made no difference to their health outcomes compared to patients who didn’t have access.

  • Will robots be cooking on gas in hospital kitchens?

    Inpatients need nutritious meals as part of their care plans. This puts hospital catering services as an important part of healthcare teams. While robots in clinical activity have received considerable attention, their opportunities in hospital catering hasn’t. Flippy might change that.

    A report  in Tech Crunch says Miso Robotics is rolling out a robotic kitchen assistant. It’s called Flippy. It’s first job’s flipping burgers. Already, it’s a bit of a celebrity, with a YouTube and Vimeo performances. 

    While burgers may not be the ideal meal for inpatients, Cali Burger makes and sells burgers in twelve countries and found Flippy its first job. It doesn’t look like a chef.

    It’s a small, wheeled cart with a six-axis robotic arm and  a sensor bar. It takes data from thermal sensors, 3D sensors and several cameras to assess its environment. Digital systems send tickets from the counter to the kitchen as Flippy’s orders.

    Then, it picks up unwrapped burgers, puts onto a hot grill, tracks their cooking time and temperature, then alerts chefs when to apply cheese or other toppings. When that’s done, Flippy plates the burgers.

     but doesn’t wrap them or add finishing touches like lettuce, tomatoes, avocado or a restaurant’s signature sauce.

    Momentum Machines makes kitchen robots too. Flippy’s different. It relies on  AI software and machine learning, so it learns to make new foods, adapting to a restaurant’s seasonal menu changes. This might be the potential for Flippy’s descendants to take on more sophisticated jobs in hospital kitchens. Let’s hope they’re not wayward offspring called Floppy.

  • An HIV-free future: improving adherence to antiretroviral treatment

    It is common knowledge that HIV and AIDS has long been an overwhelming challenge in Africa. East and sub-Saharan Africa is the most affected region in the world.  Statistics indicate that at least 19.4 million people are living with HIV in this part of the continent. South Africa alone has the biggest HIV epidemic in the world with 7.1 million people living with HIV.  In 2016, there were at least 270 000 new infections and 110 000 AIDS-related deaths in the country.

    These statistics are worrying, but there is hope. It is estimated that 61% of adults and 51% of children in East and Southern Africa are on anti-retroviral therapy (ART). Antiretroviral medications (ARVs) are life-saving drugs that have turned HIV into a manageable chronic condition. The disease is no longer a death-sentence and when HIV-positive people take their ARVs responsibly and strictly.

    Adherence to ART is often an overlooked issue despite its incredible importance. In order for an HIV-positive person to achieve an effective level of viral suppression, adherence to ARVs needs to be more than 95%. This means that there is very little room for those living with HIV to skip their ARVs.

    Remembering when to take medication on time can be challenging for many reasons. People use different methods to remind themselves, but in most cases, these methods are not always reliable or effective.

    MyTherapy, a medication reminder and health tracker app designed in Germany, is an effective and easy-to-use app that has been proven to raise adherence levels significantly. In a short space of time, the app has improved adherence by over 45% and currently has over 500,000 users.

    While the app’s main function is to help its users keep track of their medication intake, it has also been designed to improve their overall health and sense of wellbeing. Users can record important measurements, like blood pressure and weight, and track their symptoms, and for those living with HIV, the app allows users to enter lab-results data, such as blood tests, kidney-function tests and viral load.

    The app is easy-to-use and all users have to do is enter the relevant data and set alarm times. The app is designed to handle complex medication regimens, perfect for ART which requires multiple medication intake per day, and all recorded data can be printed out at the end of each month in easy-to-read graphs, which is useful for the user’s doctor. Furthermore, while the app does rely on self-efficacy and self-discipline, users can invite family and friends on the app to help them stick to their treatment plans, ensuring that various parties are involved to promote adherence further. MyTherapy also takes data protection and privacy seriously, and users also have the option to use a passcode to prevent others from accessing the app and seeing personal data.

    ARVs are exceptional drugs that have changed the face of HIV and AIDS forever.  There is potential for an HIV-free future, only if those living with the virus are responsible and take their ART strictly.

    Knowledge of HIV/AIDS is continuously expanding. Information in the article's taken from Avert and the NCBI. 

  • An analytical view of Blockchain aids understanding

    Paradigm shifts are regularly sought after by information and ICT initiatives. As a set of ideas, assumptions, and values that can help to live and see the world, a paradigm doesn’t seem easy to shift. In The Business Blockchain, published by Wiley, William Mougayar describes how Blockchain’s a paradigm shift. 

    It’s part of a sequence of paradigm shifts of the Internet, the World Wide Web, and now Blockchain. He’s firm that Blockchain’s different to all that’s originated before. It’s also tricky to understand, with a clear grasp of its philosophy essential to comprehend its technical components.

    Blockchain has six enablers, programmable: 

    AssetsTrustOwnershipMoneyIdentityContracts.

    Creating ATOMIC, Mougayar delves well into each of these. This delving and diving’s a characteristic of the book. It’s the knowledge and insights that these provide ensure it’s not a superficial overview or description. Examples are the explanation of the set of basic principles and the emphasis on Blockchain’s decentralisation features.

    Wynton Marsalis, the jazz trumpeter said to understand art, you must come to art. Art will not come to you. This resonates with Blockchain. Mougayar’s book’s essential to begin the journey. Africa’s health systems need to follow the tricky route to ensure strategic opportunities are not lost. 

  • Need a Big Data and AI overview; this’s it

    It seems that Big Data isn’t big after all. David Stephenson, in his book Big Data Demystified, published by Pearson, says “Big” significantly understates the volume and differences to conventional data. Understanding it needs to be in its context of AI and Machine Learning (ML). 

    He ranges over Big Data’s:

    UsefulnessEcosystemStrategyImplementationTechnology selectionTeam buildingGovernance and legal compliance.

    Case studies bring each of these into practical environments. While Stephenson’s keen on Big Data, his book’s not an exhortation to rush into initiatives. Instead, his “Keep in mind” boxes are valuable switches from his commentary that provide realistic insights for policy makers, strategists, executives, managers, practitioners, health workers and students.

    It’s clearly written and offers new, late and in between comers to Big Data many very valuable insights and case studies. Examples are his analyses of Big Data’ infrastructure requirements and its 3Vs, Volume, Velocity and Variety. His concept of a “data lake” draws a vivid perspective of Big Data’s difference to databases 

    He includes a salutary lesson. Many Big Data projects “Die on the launch pad because of inadequate preparation, internal resistance or poor programme management.” His case study was a $62m crash.

    As Africa’s health systems move towards more Big Data opportunities, Big Data Demystified will help to set scenarios that lie ahead. Investment in new skills is part of it.

  • Cyber-security projects reveal priorities

    As cyber-security activities step up, Barkly shows how their priorities can indicate strategies that organisations can adopt. 

    Its report identifies twelve cyber-security investment in relative priority order. They’re: 

    Endpoint security using advanced malware protection and prevention, the top priorityAccess and authorisationEndpoint protection using response and threat huntingCyber-security intelligenceData protection using encryptionApplication securityNetwork traffic visibilityWireless securityIncident response toolsBring Your Own Devices(BYOD) securityEmbedded security in IoTDistributed Denial of Service (DDOS) protection, the lowest priority. 

    Alongside these initiatives, cyber-security teams are researching and evaluation cyber-security tools. It’s an activity that needs considerable cyber-security skills and resources. For Africa’s eHealth, it means two initiatives are needed, one to recruit, train and retain experts, and provide additional resources needed by them to fulfil their role. 

  • Cape Town’s eHealth accelerator programme offers opportunities for graduates

    Many of us have good ideas. Turning them into action is often harder.  Cape Town's Accelerator Programmes aims to help. It offers opportunities for graduates to access finance and work experience to turn their ideas into a viable business.

    There are two pilot programmes. Accelerator two opens for applications on the 15th March 2018. Accelerator one has announced its eight finalists. They participate in a ten week online programme and have face to face interactions with their mentors. 

    Business coaches in eHealth started on the 23rd January 2018. The course extends over 10 weeks. There is one topic each week taking about ten hours. Finalists take part in discussions about health problems and solutions. Strategic planning, alignment to health-care environments, defining and marketing proposals are the main themes.  Discussions on topics relevant to running a profitable and beneficial eHealth business are included too.

    Finalists are :

    Petrus Van Niekerk :  Udok allows doctors to interact with patients who are far away as well as administer treatment and monitor patient careDr William Mapham : Vula Mobile is a system which allows doctors to refer patients to specialists in tertiary hospitals Dr Anuschka Coovadia : HealthAtHome is a company that will provide patients with the best care from the comfortability of their homes at an affordable price. Brighton Khumalo : ConnecTB is an online tool which allows health care providers to register and monitor TB patientsNicole Van Der Merwe : GeneCare Molecular Genetics will provide patients with access to customised diet plans as well as exercise programmes which will be accompanied by educational video coachingDr Musaed Abrahams : Aviro Health has developed an app that will mentor nurses in primary health care to efficiently treat patients with HIVSuretha Erasmus : GC Network  has developed a pregnancy screening app that educates pregnant mother of their individual risk for a chromosome abnormality as well as provides detailed information regarding available prenatal testing which will help the mothers make informed decisionsVere Shaba : RAR Group VRHEALTH is a company that created a virtual yet realistic world for substance abuse patients who have been placed in a rehabilitation to develop new behavioral patterns through the virtual world Is the programme a model for Africa’s other health systems? It offers a smart way to encourage and develop Africa’s budding eHealth entrepreneurs. 

  • Acfee welcomes two new interns

    Acfee’s intern programme plays an important role in helping to achieve our goals in the rapidly expanding and competitive African eHealth landscape. In February we welcomed two talented and driven young professionals:

    Ms Kamogelo Motlhomi, a clinical associate graduate from Wits University Ms Nontobeko Shabangu, a public health graduate from Monash University.

    Acfee interns acquire relevant, practical exposure to numerous aspects of the eHealth industry. In return they contribute fresh perspectives on eHealth’s challenges and opportunities, adding new insights and ideas to Acfee’s vibrant talent pool. 

    We look forward to a year of knowledge sharing, value creation and successful outcomes. Welcome to the Acfee team!

  • mHealth’s proven impact still seems elusive

    Africa has an expanding, diverse mHealth core to its eHealth initiatives. The Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR) found limited evidence of mHealth’s impact, and hinted that in low-income countries, mHealth’s still at an early development stage.

    JMIR’s systematic review covered 10,689 mHealth articles, including 23 systematic reviews of 371 studies with over 79,609 patients. Seventeen reviews included studies of low- and middle-income countries’ initiatives. 

    SMS for a wide range of purposes seems to be the most common type of mHealth. It includes reminders, alerts, educations, motivation and illness prevention. Ten reviews gave them an Assessment of Multiple Systematic Reviews (AMSTAR) score of 0 to 4, low quality. Seven were rated as moderate quality, an AMSTAR score of 5 to 8. Six were rated as high quality, an AMSTAR score of 9 to 11. 

    mHealth for  chronic disease management scored well for impacts of:

    Improved symptoms and peak flow variability in asthma patients and fewer hospital admissions and improving forced expiratory volume in one secondImproving Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Diseases (COPD) symptomsImproving heart failure symptoms and fewer deaths and hospital admissionsImproving glycaemic control in diabetes patientsImproving blood pressure in hypertensive patientsReducing weight in overweight and obese patientsBetter attendance ratesBetter adherence to tuberculosis and human immunodeficiency virus therapy in some scenarios, with evidence of decreased viral loads.

    While these are positive results, the benefits may still be moderate.  JMIR concluded that “Evidence for efficacy is still limited. In general, the methodological quality of the studies included in the systematic reviews is low. For some fields, its impact is not evident, the results are mixed, or no long-term studies exist.”

    The lack of reliable evidence doesn’t mean that Africa should slow down its mHealth investment. Instead, it means it should set up a reliable methodology to reveal the range of good and bad impacts. Lessons from these will be invaluable.

  • Telehealth providers have five trends

    As Africa’s mHealth initiatives move on, opportunities to include telehealth are expanding. Options for health systems can follow five provider trends. MDLIVE has described these in Wellness Gone Wireless:Top 5 Trends Driving Telehealth in 2018, available from Fierce Markets. 

    The trends are: 

    Expansion of cloud-based smartphone technology and health and wellness wearables, creating more engaged consumersAI innovation enabling more refined data analytics and personalised patients’ experiencesReduced reliance on reimbursement models, expanding providers and patients populationsConsumer satisfaction driving more demand and lower costsDisciplined focus on data security, driving increased consumer confidence and suppliers’ oversight. 

    Removing barriers to access telemedicine’s part of these trends. It can improve healthcare quality and removes geographic limitations on access. It’s becoming easier to match providers to community needs.

    These are encouraging signs for Africa’s telehealth priorities.

  • eHealth for mental health needs more intelligence

    Cinderella never thought that her success would attach her name to parts of healthcare. Countries’ mental health service is one of them, and its eHealth investment is being held back too. A study in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (JMIR) sets out to explain why. It investigated individual characteristics that influence both preferences and intentions to use eHealth for mental health in Australia. It identifies factors that might inhibit or enable eHealth.

    It found low reported preferences for eHealth for mental health services. Despite this, intentions to access these services are higher. This raises the challenge of how to translate these intentions into activities that use eHealth services. It found that strategies designed to enhance confidence and familiarity and ease people into new Internet-based mental health service programs may be important for increasing the chances of sustainable use. But, will users return to eHealth later? 

    It’s a worthy goal, but the study found that most respondents, almost 86%, prefer face-to-face services. The scope to engage eHealth users was found to be up to 40%. It’s a significant user base that needs supporting.

    Acfee identifies several factors that needed in eHealth to secure benefits. They include:

    Stakeholder engagementMeeting users’ information requirementsEasy to useHigh level of utilisation. 

    Putting these in place for the 40% will increase the chances of sustainable use and benefits realisation. For Africa, with its limited healthcare resource base, supporting up 40% mental health patients with eHealth access offers a valuable way to expand mental health services at minimal cost. It’s an opportunity. It’s not easy to achieve.

  • A smart watch can detect epilepsy

    Epilepsy is a leading serious neurological condition worldwide.  It has particularly significant physical, economic and social consequences.  Recognising the need for an intervention, Empatica Inc. has developed a smart watch to detect seizures in epileptic patients.  They’re calling it Embrace.

    Embrace uses machine learning algorithms to monitor and detect different seizure types, including grand mal or generalised tonic-clonic seizures. Electrodermal Activity (EDA)* sensors in the watch are used to measure multiple indicators of a seizure. 

    It’s also accompanied by an app that will send an alert, via text message, to a healthcare provider or caregiver once a seizure is detected.  Additionally, the app serves as an electronic seizure diary and health record for the user.

    During a clinical study involving 135 epileptic patients, Embrace’s algorithm was shown to detect 100% of the seizures, including the 40% of silent seizures that were unreported in patient clinical diaries.  Following this, the smart watch has received FDA approval as well as approval in Europe as a medical device for epileptic monitoring.

    Embrace’s high sensitivity is revolutionising seizure reporting.  It serves as a much awaited alternative to wearing an EEG, that is automated, and isn’t bulky or cumbersome to wear.

    *signals used to quantify physiological changes in the sympathetic nervous system 

  • Three mHealth apps help with treatment adherence

    Adherence to medication is an increasing problem in primary health care in Africa. It is important for many things, from birth control to antibiotics to ARTs. When medications are forgotten or skipped, most treatments are no longer as effective.  This becomes both costly for the healthcare system and detrimental to a patient’s health.

    Factors impacting adherence are multifaceted and include social, economic and psychological motives.  A sub-Saharan study in 2017 reported the most common barriers to adherence were;

    ForgettingLack of access to adequate foodStigma and discriminationSide-effects of the medicationTraveling

    With the uptake of smartphones in Africa, mHealth apps targeting treatment adherence could be a simple solution.  Here are the top 3 downloaded treatment adherence apps on Google Play Store. 

    PatientPartner

    This app turns patient education into an adventure game and shows patients the importance of sticking to a treatment schedule.

    Medisafe

    In addition to medication reminders, this app will notify friends and family if the user defaults. Medisafe also launched a low-tech version that sends reminders through automated phone calls and text messages. 

    MyTherapy

    After logging their medications on the MyTherapy app, users will receive reminders and alerts to take their medications.  Other features on the app include symptom tracking, healthy lifestyle tips and friends and family support groups.

    Improved adherence means a healthier society and ultimately, a reduced burden on healthcare systems.  Moreover, access to adherence data from these apps could help doctors and policy makers make better informed decisions about how to improve the healthcare system.