Trend Bet­ter health­care, in­stantly

A newly launched plat­form for med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als is aim­ing to im­prove pa­tient treat­ment by pro­vid­ing free, in­stant ac­cess to re­gion­ally rel­e­vant medicines, clin­i­cal guide­lines and care co­or­di­na­tion in­for­ma­tion.

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south Africa’s public health­care sec­tor is no­to­ri­ously un­der­re­sourced, bat­tling staff short­ages and out­dated equip­ment, de­cay­ing in­fra­struc­ture and lim­ited ac­cess to sup­port in­for­ma­tion and data at points of care. After prac­tis­ing in such en­vi­ron­ments

– both in SA and other emerg­ing coun­tries – South African med­i­cal doc­tors Yaseen Khan and Mohammed Dal­wai re­alised that to ef­fec­tively treat pa­tients and ac­cu­rately pre­scribe medicine, med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als re­quire ac­cess to lo­cally rel­e­vant clin­i­cal guide­lines, medicines and lo­gis­tics in­for­ma­tion.

This vi­sion re­sulted in the es­tab­lish­ment of The Open Medicine Project SA (TOMPSA) by Khan and Dal­wai in 2013 – a not-for­profit or­gan­i­sa­tion set up with the ob­jec­tive of us­ing tech­nol­ogy, pri­mar­ily mo­bile, to as­sist in en­hanc­ing ac­cess to up-to-date and rel­e­vant clin­i­cal sup­port in­for­ma­tion for med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als.

TOMPSA de­vel­oped a num­ber of med­i­cal in­for­ma­tion-fo­cused apps for lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional in­sti­tu­tions, in­clud­ing the na­tional depart­ment of health and Doc­tors With­out Borders. Demon­strat­ing the level of de­mand for such tech­nol­ogy, these apps have been down­loaded more than 300 000 times across the world.

The project’s last brain­child, Es­sen­tial Med­i­cal Guid­ance (EMGuid­ance), is a sin­gle dig­i­tal ac­cess point for point-of-care-re­lated clin­i­cal sup­port in­for­ma­tion, which is adapt­able in dif­fer­ent re­gions and health sys­tems.

The 12-strong EMGuid­ance team com­prises doc­tors, phar­ma­cists, de­vel­op­ers and mar­keters, and is sup­ported by other med­i­cal ex­perts.

De­signed by EMTech­nolo­gies and launched in 2016, the mo­bile- and web-based clin­i­cal sup­port plat­form aims to im­prove pa­tient out­comes by sup­port­ing med­i­cal pro­fes­sional de­ci­sion­mak­ing by pro­vid­ing free, in­stant ac­cess to re­gion­ally rel­e­vant medicines, clin­i­cal guide­lines and care co­or­di­na­tion in­for­ma­tion, as well as clin­i­cal de­ci­sion sup­port tools.

Med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als who have reg­is­tered on the app have ac­cess to the free, in­ter­ac­tive and con­sis­tently up­dated, fully ref­er­enced mo­bile medicines re­source, which has been cre­ated in part­ner­ship with its network of phar­ma­col­o­gists, spe­cial­ists and med­i­cal in­sti­tu­tions, as well as over 1 200 lo­cally rel­e­vant clin­i­cal guide­lines. The plat­form can be ac­cessed via an An­droid and an iOS mo­bile ap­pli­ca­tion.

Elab­o­rat­ing on the mon­eti­sa­tion model, Khan, CEO of EMGuid­ance, says while the app will al­ways be free for and fo­cused on de­liv­er­ing in­stant in­for­ma­tion ac­cess and value for med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als, the plat­form’s rev­enue model is cen­tred on pro­vid­ing a num­ber of a num­ber of in-app pro­duc­tre­lated op­por­tu­ni­ties for phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies.

“The phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal in­dus­try has huge value to add to the EMGuid­ance-en­abled ecosys­tem, in sup­port­ing med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als with sup­ple­men­tary in­for­ma­tion around their prod­ucts, at the point when a med­i­cal pro­fes­sional is ac­tu­ally search­ing for it.

“We cur­rently have 10 multi­na­tional phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal cus­tomers on board, and we’re work­ing very closely with them and with our user-base to hone the mu­tu­ally ben­e­fi­cial frame­work. The ini­tial re­sponse from both sides has been ex­tremely pos­i­tive,” he com­ments.

Funded through early-stage grants from US-based fun­der the Univer­sity of Wis­con­sin and seed fun­der Echo­ing Green, and cur­rently in its third round of fund­ing, Khan’s in­ten­tion is for the app to be­come a sin­gle dig­i­tal ac­cess point for a va­ri­ety of med­i­cal in­for­ma­tion.

“We be­lieve that in­di­vid­ual, point so­lu­tions don’t work. They don’t scale, and it is a poor user ex­pe­ri­ence to have to down­load mul­ti­ple apps, when a sin­gle ac­cess plat­form could be em­ployed. Plat­forms are gen­er­ally more dif­fi­cult and ex­pen­sive to de­velop and grow, but the value they can de­liver to all play­ers is sig­nif­i­cantly more than a


Over 6 000 med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als have

■ down­loaded the app, reg­is­tered and are us­ing it.

All medicines on the Es­sen­tial Medicines List

(EML) listed, with non-EML medicines added daily.

1 200 lo­cally rel­e­vant clin­i­cal guide­lines are

■ pub­lished on be­half of 25 med­i­cal in­sti­tu­tions.

Ten multi­na­tional phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal ■ com­pa­nies are on board.

The or­gan­i­sa­tion aims to have at least 25% ■ of all doc­tors and phar­ma­cists in SA us­ing the app by mid-2018.


Univer­sity of Wit­wa­ter­srand ob­stet­ric guide­lines; ■

South African So­ci­ety of Anaes­the­si­ol­o­gists

■ pae­di­atric pro­ce­dural se­da­tion guide­lines;

South African Pae­di­atric As­so­ci­a­tion Neona­tal

■ re­sus­ci­ta­tion guide­lines;

Part­ners in Health ul­tra­sound guide­lines; and

Na­tional depart­ment of health pri­mary health care ■ level stan­dard treat­ment guide­lines.

Med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als who have reg­is­tered on the app have ac­cess to the free, in­ter­ac­tive and con­sis­tently up­dated, fully ref­er­enced mo­bile medicines re­source.

range of in­di­vid­ual apps,” notes Khan.

A slimmed-down ver­sion of EMGuid­ance is al­ready avail­able in Botswana, Egypt, Ghana, Kenya, Namibia, Tan­za­nia, Uganda, Cameroon, Rwanda, Su­dan and Zam­bia, with the full ver­sion due to be rolled out in these ter­ri­to­ries, and oth­ers, from 2018 on­wards.

In pro­vid­ing in­for­ma­tion to med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als, the plat­form also en­ables med­i­cal in­sti­tu­tions to dis­sem­i­nate their own lo­cally rel­e­vant guide­lines to a broad and en­gaged au­di­ence, at no charge, and for phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies to pro­vide con­tex­tu­ally rel­e­vant and value-adding con­tent to med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als.

Khan adds that much con­sid­er­a­tion has gone into en­sur­ing that all in­for­ma­tion and re­sources up­dated to the re­source is ac­cu­rate.

“The clin­i­cal guide­lines are au­thored by med­i­cal in­sti­tu­tions, na­tional gov­ern­ment and hos­pi­tals. They take re­spon­si­bil­ity for en­sur­ing that the lat­est and most up-to-date ver­sions of their guide­lines are on EMGuid­ance. They al­ways have fi­nal sign-off on their guide­lines be­fore they go live on EMGuid­ance,” he says, adding that an in-app mes­sag­ing sys­tem also al­lows users to in­stantly no­tify the app mod­er­a­tors should they find an er­ror.

The or­gan­i­sa­tion also plans on re­leas­ing a web­site ver­sion of EMGuid­ance. ■

Yaseen Khan CEO of EMGuid­ance

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