Role of tech partnerships in response to Covid-19 crisis

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2020 00:00 |
Private entities throw weight behind State’s anti-coronavirus kitty.

Amrote Abdella 

The Covid-19 crisis has highlighted several areas, from the need of efficient information management to the need of accurate data gathering for faster medical response.

Looking at the role of technology during this period, one area that has stood apart in driving meaningful change is the role of partnerships. 

Various firms, including Microsoft,  formed strategic partnerships with healthcare providers throughout Africa and beyond, providing them with technical support and business consultancy to help them achieve their goals.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are already used in healthcare, but in a rapidly evolving situation, these tools can significantly help boost response times and preparedness.

AI and cloud computing are likely to dramatically change the way we deliver healthcare into communities, in a highly positive way.

By using big data and analytics to deliver real-time insights and proven step-by-step workflows into healthcare service challenges, large-scale healthcare systems can deliver improved performance and better decision-making: essentially using artificial intelligence to power human act to save lives.

When Microsoft4Afrika first partnered with BroadReach, a leading healthcare software vendor in Middle East and Africa, they were striving to create and implement data-driven solutions to improve the management and delivery of health programmes in underserved regions around the world. 

In healthcare, quick response times save lives. BroadReach has produced a facility readiness survey that allows government to redirect resources to prioritised hospitals and facilities, so that they have the right equipment and medical supplies on hand.

Predictive analysis can be used to help forecast and track outbreak hotspots.

This is one true demonstration of how partnerships in technology can deliver in situations that are rapidly changing.

Telemedicine is another area where technology is enabling safer diagnosis and limiting unnecessary contact between patients and healthcare providers. Globally, the use of telemedicine has been surging during the current pandemic. 

In Pakistan, we’ve seen the benefits of telemedicine in reaching patients who have limited access to healthcare and healthcare workers. 

Sehat Kahani, an e-health start-up provides patients who are far from healthcare centres with access to qualified doctors via a telemedicine platform, while cloud computing services mean that their patient records are immediately available anywhere using a mobile device. 

Telemedicine can perform a vital role in enabling people to access healthcare services, remote diagnoses, and treatment plans.

During the Covid-19 crisis, Sehat Kahani is using its smartphone app to provide virtual consultations to patients across Pakistan, delivering educational content about the pandemic, and helping to direct them to the correct healthcare facilities if necessary. 

It’s encouraging to see how technology can support humanitarian healthcare goals of countries across the globe, and how leading technology companies can support and enable healthcare partners to provide better, faster and more accurate treatment.

Seeing how technologies can be adapted to work best in an emerging crisis shows the value of investing in partnerships to help develop these platforms and services.

The clear challenge in Africa is bridging the gap in healthcare and providing equal access for all. Partnerships provides more muscle through collaboration to ensure a healthy nation. —The writer is regional Director, Microsoft 4Afrika Initiative

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