PharmAccess, Luscii and healthcare providers in Ghana present their progress during the Global Week for Action on NCDs.
The WHO has predicted that by 2030, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like hypertension, diabetes and cancer are expected to become the leading cause of death in Africa. As most African health systems are severely underfunded, innovative solutions that provide affordable care for the growing patient groups are urgently needed. Through the mobile app developed by Luscii, patients can now self-manage their disease and submit information like blood pressure and glucose values to their care team. Healthcare staff receive automatic alerts which provide information on the patient’s health condition, enabling them to reach out via phone or messages as soon as risks arise.
Partnership originated in COVID time
Luscii Healthtech, PharmAccess Foundation and University of Ghana Medical Centre started collaborating early in the COVID pandemic with a mobile application called COVIDConnect. The app and service developed by Luscii and OLVG hospital in The Netherlands was successfully scaled to three African countries with the network and support of PharmAccess. The service enabled people to self-check for symptoms that may be caused by the coronavirus. Due to the app’s versatility, it was adapted for monitoring two non-communicable diseases with high prevalence: diabetes and hypertension. Now called ‘NCD Care’, the digital service complements Ghana’s NCD strategy in line with the national health policy.
Monitoring and participation of medical staff
The NCD pilot has started with patients and doctors linked to three hospitals: University of Ghana Medical Centre (UGMC), Greater Accra Regional Hospital (GARH) and 37 Military hospital. The self-management tools and built-in protocols in the app allow patients to enter their daily blood pressure or blood sugar measurements into their mobile phones, and to be monitored and managed remotely by their doctor. It also allows patients to be delegated to appropriate care based on risk levels, do self-monitoring, and access health information, lifestyle advice, and medication reminder messages to improve adherence.
Since the inception of the program, patients have been enthusiastic about measuring their blood pressure and blood glucose at least twice per month. Apart from improving health outcomes for patients, the pilot also aims to improve participation of medical staff, with emphasis on self-management, prevention and management of complicated cases.
Medical staff have been trained, to adjust their workflow to integrate the use of the app. The responsiveness of the teams so far is commendable. After receiving alerts of irregular blood and glucose levels of their patients, 65% to 75% of the alerts are processed within 48 hours, depending on the type of alerts given.
Luscii and PharmAccess share the ambition to bring the digitally enabled chronic care model to the market within the next three years. For this to be a success they will optimize to improve outcomes and expand their network of collaborators, including clinicians and healthcare investors in the countries.
Dr. Maxwell Antwi, Country Director Ghana for PharmAccess said: “Thanks to the support of the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) we have been able to make a three- year plan with Luscii and optimize the mobile monitoring service. With these promising first results we are hoping to expand in Ghana and beyond, so we can improve health prospects of the millions of Africans still waiting to receive care for NCD’s’’.
Drs. Ronald Scheffer, co-founder of Luscii: “We hope to improve clinical outcomes for patients with NCDs and reduce healthcare costs. We have seen strong results on reduction of unnecessary hospital visits and improved quality of care in Europe. Our proven technology has the potential to have even a bigger impact in Africa and especially NCD care. With this multi-year partnership we are taking the next step to make our dream of revolutionizing healthcare become reality.”