Since the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic in December 2019, communities around the globe have been shuttered one way or the other, direct or indirect. Some communities’ source of income was completely shut, while others lost bread winners and loved ones; previously enjoyed freedoms were cut and many other negative effects.
Southern African Development Community (Sadc) member states or Southern African region is not spared; it has its own fair share of challenges with tourism sector being the hardest hit.
Be that as it may, human beings, being human beings they cannot follow the route of dinosaurs that became extinct without being adaptive or innovative to remain alive.
As part of efforts to escalate the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, African health care technology company, Epione.net has developed a web-based platform and mobile application with tools to support the tracking, tracing, processing and monitoring of suspected and confirmed Covid-19 cases.
App free of charge for all patients
Epione.net Founder and Chief Executive Officer, Garikai Govati said the app is free of charge for all patients and is accessible via the web-portal and mobile app on Android (Google Play) and iOS (Apple Store).
“The core platform for clinicians is free for all primary care clinicians, and is also accessible via the web-portal,” Govati said.
“In the wake of the global COVID-19 pandemic and specifically in Zimbabwe and other African countries, digital channels to support our healthcare sector have become even more crucial. Epione.net has undertaken multiple efforts to enhance our platform and patient mobile application, equipping our users with tools to support the tracking, tracing, processing and monitoring of suspected and confirmed COVID-19 cases. By leveraging our existing functionality that provides end-to-end case and patient management, we are able to provide support for all key stakeholders, but especially patients”
He said the platform is accessible from any part of the world.
“Our platform knows no borders (but observes local regulations), and allows for the connection of healthcare seekers and healthcare providers regardless of which country they are based in. Therefore, from a scalability point of view, we are able to reach and connect (either virtually or, if need be, physically) the whole African continent, as a start, to access healthcare,” he said.
Considerable growth in tech solutions within healthcare
He said the app was developed to provide an end-to-end patient care coordination and management system.
“There has been considerable growth in technological solutions within the healthcare space, from booking systems to electronic medical records and billing platforms. However, these solutions remain siloed, offering only a limited view of the patient’s medical journey. The same can be said for solutions to specifically address COVID-19; the health space is increasingly flooded with once-off solutions that are disconnected from the broader chain of care. It is in-fact one of the ironies of the technological revolution, that innovations meant to connect are inadvertently contributing to a disconnected health system. The consequences can be grave; at the systemic level this siloed approach results in fragmented services, compromised quality of care, inefficiencies and escalating costs. At the individual level it can lead to death and/or morbidity due to doctors not having access to records at the time they need it most.
“Epione.net is truly unique in that it offers an end-to-end solution, connecting all stakeholders, while keeping the patient at the centre. It was also designed with Africans in mind – it is platform agnostic, can work online or offline, and can work across both private and public healthcare systems because we know so many patients and healthcare professionals work across both,” Govati said.
A digital toolbox for handling Covid-19
Specific to patients, he said, the app’s goal was to support patients in three areas namely; provide patient education, enable self-monitoring and assist patients to locate Covid-19 screening practitioners and labs.
The platform has therefore been enhanced with the following functionalities, requesting a Covid-19 screening; book a Covid-19 test, Covid-19 case tracking, symptom tracker, a symptom dashboard, remote monitoring and triggered severity measures.
On future plans Govati said, “We’re currently live in Zimbabwe and South Africa and plan to expand to the rest of the continent first in the short-term, and then eventually the world. Technically, the COVID-19 self-screening portion of the app can already be used by anyone, anywhere in the world. We have users as far afield as China and Spain that have downloaded and use the free epione.net patient app for exactly those purposes. Some use it to manage dependents ‘back home’ from afar e.g. booking a Covi-19 test at labs for a relative.”
"This app makes it easy to track how everyone is"
Commenting on the app Dr Martica Alvarez from Baragwanath Hospital in South Africa said the app made the monitoring of patients easy.
“For me it’s important to keep up with those I love. Sometimes life gets so busy you forget appointments and check-ups they may have. This app makes it easy to track how everyone is. As a doctor I also appreciate it prompts the user to get medical attention as soon as possible - preventing us from seeing patients with advanced disease as they didn’t recognize early signs.
“The app is easy and self-explanatory. It also erases the grey areas. A patient might ignore a symptom for a day but as soon as he enters that symptom again the app brings up a prompt. I think it’s important to have personalized reminders to seek medical attention and just as important to make it easy and accessible. The less effort there is in having to get to medical attention the more likely the patient will seek it,” Dr Martica said.
Founded by four passionate young Africans, epione.net is a healthcare company that is using technology to solve what they believe is Africa's biggest healthcare challenge – a siloed approach to patient management and treatment.
The company name is inspired by Epione, the Greek goddess of the soothing of pain and that is exactly what the company aims to do. The company believes healthcare is about fostering collaboration and increasing access to quality and affordable healthcare for all, using one true source of information.
🗳 Since democracy is crucial in a fact-based optimistic world... we remind our readers of the democratic status of the countries we write about:
Zimbabwe has a Global Freedom Score of 29 and has the status Partly Free.