NCD Care is a mobile application that facilitates access to hypertension and diabetes care in Ghana
Hypertension and diabetes patients in Ghana are now benefiting from a unique and more personalized form of care with the introduction of a mobile app with self-management tools.
The app has built-in protocols that allow patients to enter their daily blood pressure (BP) and blood glucose readings to be monitored and managed remotely by their doctors in real time.
Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as hypertension, diabetes and cancer are the leading causes of death worldwide and represent an emerging threat to global health. The WHO has predicted that by 2030, NCDs are expected to become the leading cause of death in Africa. In Ghana, hypertension is a common cause of medical emergencies such as heart failure and kidney failure.
Over the years, it has become increasingly difficult to include and sustainably retain the growing number of people living with NCDs in care using current service and pricing models. The NCD Care program, introduced by global health organization PharmAccess, and Luscii, a digital health innovator, has improved access to care for some patients who have been using the app since its introduction.
The user experience so far has been positive, with testimonials about its usability. Speaking to reporters on NCD Care as part of the Global NCD Action Week, Baaba, who is one of the users of the app, said, “The app is very convenient. I was introduced to the program by my doctor and given my own monitor, so I could check my BP from the comfort of my home.
With the NCD Care program, patients measure and enter their blood pressure or glucose readings into the mobile app, and their doctors receive automatic alerts that provide information about the patient’s health status, allowing them to contact them by telephone or by message as soon as the risks are present. detected.
The mobile app allows patients to be delegated appropriate care based on risk levels, perform self-monitoring, and access health information, lifestyle advice, and reminder messages. medications. The mobile app helps individuals change their behavior through lifestyle management, medication adherence, and education. As most African health systems are severely underfunded, innovative solutions that provide affordable care to growing patient groups are urgently needed.
The partnership was born in times of COVID
Luscii Healthtech, PharmAccess Foundation and University of Ghana Medical Center began collaborating at the onset of the COVID pandemic with a mobile application called COVIDConnect. The application and service developed by Luscii and OLVG Hospital in the Netherlands has been successfully extended to three African countries with the network and support of PharmAccess. The service allowed people to self-check symptoms that may be caused by the coronavirus. Due to the app’s versatility, it has been adapted to monitor two high-prevalence non-communicable diseases: diabetes and hypertension. Now called ‘NCD Care’, the digital service complements Ghana’s NCD strategy in line with the National Health Policy. The NCD pilot project started with three hospitals: University of Ghana Medical Center (UGMC), Greater Accra Regional Hospital (GARH) and Military Hospital 37.
Responsiveness and Participation of medical staff
Hospital medical staff have been trained and medical teams are adjusting the structural workflow to integrate the use of the application. The responsiveness of the medical teams so far is commendable. After receiving alerts for irregular blood and glucose levels from their patients, 65% to 75% of alerts are answered within 48 hours, depending on the type of alerts transmitted.
The program aims to improve the health outcomes and responsiveness of participating medical personnel, with an emphasis on self-management, prevention and the management of complicated cases.
PharmAccess Ghana’s Country Director, Dr Maxwell Antwi, explained that since the program started, patients have been enthusiastic about having their blood pressure and blood sugar measured at least twice a month. In addition to improving health outcomes for patients, the pilot project also improved the involvement of medical staff, emphasizing self-management, prevention and the management of complicated cases.
According to Dr. Maxwell Antwi, PharmAccess and Luscii share the ambition to bring the digital chronic care model to market within the next three years. To make this a success, they will leverage to improve outcomes and expand their network of collaborators, including clinicians and healthcare investors in countries.
The PharmAccess country manager thanked the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) and said, “We were able to develop a three-year plan with Luscii and optimize the mobile monitoring service. With these promising early results, we hope to expand in Ghana and beyond, to improve the health prospects of the millions of Africans who are still waiting to receive care for NCDs.”
Dr. Ronald Scheffer, co-founder of Luscii, said, “We hope to improve clinical outcomes for patients with NCDs and reduce healthcare costs. We have seen great results in reducing unnecessary hospital visits and improving the quality of care across Europe. Our proven technology has the potential to have an even greater impact in Africa and in particular on NCD care. With this multi-year partnership, we are taking another step towards making our dream of revolutionizing healthcare a reality.