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.
south Africa’s public healthcare sector is notoriously underresourced, battling staff shortages and outdated equipment, decaying infrastructure and limited access to support information and data at points of care.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.
RECENTLY ADDED RESOURCES:
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. ■
CEO of EMGuidance