Telemedicine Leveraged by Smart Glasses to Improve Primary Healthcare Services in a Remote Rural District, Kingandu, Drc, 2019–2020

20 Pages Posted: 11 May 2021

See all articles by Jules Diaka

Jules Diaka

Memisa Belgique in DRCongo

Wim Van Damme

Institute of Tropical Medicine

Felipe Sere

Memisa

L. Benova

London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine - Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology

Willem van de Put

Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp

Steven Serneels

Iristick

Date Written: May 10, 2021

Abstract

Background: Telemedicine enables new forms of medical consultation and is expanding worldwide. Patients in sub-Saharan Africa could potentially benefit substantially from telemedicine.

Objective: To improve primary healthcare services, especially referrals to the district hospital, for the population in three health centres in the rural district Kingandu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) by introducing a telemedicine intervention leveraged by Smart Glasses.

Methods: The project involved the design and introduction of an intervention combining community engagement with technological innovation (Smart Glasses, communication equipment, moto-ambulances, and new diagnostic tests), and with staff training. Utilisation of the intervention, use of the health centres, and referrals to the hospital were monitored through the routine health information system and project-specific registers. Key stakeholders were interviewed and the project costs were analysed.

Results: The use cases for the intervention were defined in consultation with the stakeholders. Extensive training and troubleshooting were needed throughout the project period. The total number of consultations increased significantly in the intervention health centres. The number of referrals to the hospital remained relatively stable, but an increased proportion effectively arrived in the hospital. The Smart Glasses and moto-ambulance greatly facilitated emergency referrals, often requiring a potentially life-saving intervention in the hospital. All stakeholders involved highly valued the intervention.

Conclusion: Telemedicine can contribute to improving primary healthcare services in a remote rural area, as part of a more comprehensive intervention and with intensive participation of all stakeholders. It can increase acceptability and use of the existing services; improve diagnosis, treatment, and referral of patients; and can also facilitate on-the-job training and supportive supervision.

Keywords: digital health, smart glasses, PHC, DRC, health system, sub-Saharan Africa, digital health, referral, rural health

Suggested Citation

Diaka, Jules and Van Damme, Wim and Sere, Felipe and Benova, L. and van de Put, Willem and Serneesl, Steven, Telemedicine Leveraged by Smart Glasses to Improve Primary Healthcare Services in a Remote Rural District, Kingandu, Drc, 2019–2020 (May 10, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3842712 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3842712

Jules Diaka

Memisa Belgique in DRCongo ( email )

Brussels
+243810149632 (Phone)

Wim Van Damme (Contact Author)

Institute of Tropical Medicine ( email )

B-2000 Antwerp
Belgium

Felipe Sere

Memisa

Brussels

L. Benova

London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine - Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology

London
United Kingdom

Willem Van de Put

Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp

Wenzhou
China
2000 (Fax)

Steven Serneesl

Iristick ( email )

Lamorinierestraat, 123
Antwerp, Antwerp 2000
Belgium

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