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Benefits of telehealth in Kenya

Updated: Mar 17

Accessing medical care virtually has made life easier

Author: Dr. Blaise Ntacyabukura


Telehealth is the use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support healthcare. Telemedicine is a subset of telehealth that focuses on medical doctors' clinical services provided virtually to patients.



In Kenya, telemedicine is the most explored part of telehealth.

It covers:

  • Primary care: A day-to-day healthcare given by general practitioners or family medicine doctors.

  • Specialty care: women health, surgeries, children health, dermatology, etc

  • Chronic disease management for patients with diabetes, hypertension, Gout, etc

Although the delivery of telemedicine services may be hindered by limited broadband service in some areas, access to stable internet has become increasingly available in Kenya.



BYON8's approach


BYON8 has a consultative model wherein medical doctors communicate with patients via a live video and a chat, both in the secured BYON8 mobile app. General practitioners and family doctors provide primary care, while specialty care is offered on an appointment basis with a large pool of specialists.


Benefits of BYON8's telemedicine services



From the different feedbacks of patients, doctors, and policymakers, a tool like BYON8 carries a lot of benefits for a country like Kenya, with limited access to primary care and largely unaffordable chronic disease management.

To mention a few, BYON8 will help to:

  • Shorten the widening rural-urban disparity in life expectancy that is mainly attributable to the lack of access to high-quality healthcare. Increased access to expanded primary care and specialty consultative care in remote (rural) areas facilitate early diagnosis and treatment of deadly diseases and follow-up with the most efficient medical doctors.

  • Offer a variety of healthcare visits for primary care services. The video component provides critical clinical information beyond what can be ascertained via a telephone call or through electronic messaging.

  • Offer care for patients requiring urgent care for upper respiratory infections or urinary tract infections and evaluation of skin conditions and medication management of chronic anxiety and depression.

Limitations

Telemedicine visits are not a complete substitute for in-person visits, nor are telemedicine visits feasible for all patients or clinical situations. The lack of the possibility to conduct an in-person physical examination present a considerable setback, even though the self-examinations are largely possible.

How could you get the most from BYON8's telemedicine service?

Technology does not always work smoothly, and technical difficulties may interfere with care delivery to 1 in every ten people using telemedicine. Since that could be common in a country like Kenya, BYON8 has developed the following strategies to counteract every difficulty.

  • Before the consultation:

  • Confirm your mobile device has enough power, good internet, and the sounds for notifications are on.

  • If your visit will be via a live video call, make sure your mobile device could offer a good resolution and audio quality.

  • The mobile device you intend to use for live video calls should be secured in a fixed position to minimize distractions.

  • If you will be consulting in a shared space, ensure privacy during the virtual encounter.

During the consultation:

  • Type or speak slowly and frequently pause to allow for transmission delays. It is better to get feedback for every complaint at the time.

  • Ensure you have communicated to the doctor your name, gender, physical location, and telephone number to facilitate records validation or creation and intervention if a medical emergency arises during the visit.

  • Follow the doctor's instructions on how to perform self-examination or how to best photograph skin lesions of concern.



After the consultation:

  • Fulfill the following steps explained by the treating doctor. That could be laboratory tests to be done, purchasing prescribed medications, etc.

  • Respect follow-up schedules

  • Keep your mobile device secured with a password to prevent exposing your medical information to anyone out there.

Sources:
1. Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. What is telehealth? How is telehealth different from telemedicine? Available at: https://www.healthit.gov/faq/what-telehealth-how-telehealth-different-telemedicine (Accessed on February 6, 2022)
2. https://www.byon8.com (Accessed on February 6, 2022)
3. Reed, M. E., Huang, J., Parikh, R., Millman, A., Ballard, D. W., Barr, I., & Wargon, C. (2019). Patient-Provider Video Telemedicine Integrated With Clinical Care: Patient Experiences. Annals of internal medicine, 171(3), 222–224. https://doi.org/10.7326/M18-3081
4. Benziger, C. P., Huffman, M. D., Sweis, R. N., & Stone, N. J. (2021). The Telehealth Ten: A Guide for a Patient-Assisted Virtual Physical Examination. The American journal of medicine, 134(1), 48–51. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amjmed.2020.06.015
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