Online application for chronic illnesses Mr Moses Ntandoyenkosi Zimba

Thandeka Moyo-Ndlovu, [email protected] 

IMAGINE getting a reminder to take medication on a daily basis complemented by tailor-made diet plans by renowned dieticians. 

This has been made possible by a local company whose online disease management application is aimed at reducing the impact of chronic diseases in Zimbabwe. The system also allows a medical aid scheme to keep track of a patient’s medical history even if he or she changes the doctor. 

The application has been designed in such a way that it can provide real-time monitoring of patient’s health, medication adherence and lifestyle modifications.

According to health experts, a majority of chronic diseases can be averted through lifestyle changes. Chronic diseases account for the majority of disease burden affecting disadvantaged members of society who at times cannot afford healthcare services. 

For just US$3 or US$5 monthly, millions of Zimbabweans suffering from chronic illness will be able to access ongoing monitoring, medication management and lifestyle modifications.

This concept was recently introduced in Zimbabwe by New Health 263, a leading IT solutions company that has been operational in South Africa. The company helps individuals to improve their health and reduce healthcare costs.

In Zimbabwe, the chronic disease burden continues to wreak havoc in many communities and has left many in poverty. The most common include HIV, Tuberculosis, cancer, asthma, arthritis, hypertension and diabetes. 

The country’s HIV prevalence stands at 11,8 percent and accounts for more than 20 000 deaths annually while 5 000 new cases and 1 500 cancer related deaths are recorded every year.

It is estimated that 10 in every 100 people have diabetes. Presently, diabetes statistics represent over 100 000 visits or consultations at the country’s major hospitals’ outpatient departments per year.

Hypertension has a high pooled prevalence of 30 percent and is prevalent in people living in urban settings. 

In an interview, New Health 263 operations manager, Mr Moses Ntandoyenkosi Zimba said the disease management tool is primarily meant to help cut healthcare costs associated with chronic illnesses. 

“Our main aim is to avoid hospitalisations which form a significant outlay for the medical aid companies. A reasonable management fee will be charged which will be between US$3 and $5 a month,” he said.

Mr Zimba said the disease management programme had significant success in South Africa where there was a 20 percent reduction in hospitalisations for patients who were on managed care versus those who were not. 

“The average cost of hospitalisations for those who were managed was about R990 and for those who were not managed was approximately R7 800,” he said.

Mr Zimba said it was also established that those who were under managed care were hospitalised for a less serious reason.

“By partnering with New Health 263, companies can help their employees better manage their chronic conditions, reduce absenteeism and improve productivity. This, in turn, can lead to cost savings for the company, a healthier and more engaged workforce,” he said.

 Mr Zimba said chronic diseases are prevalent in Zimbabwe and the need to manage them effectively was identified before the programme was adopted. 

“The system we use provides a platform where clinical practitioners can access patient information at the click of a button. The system will also allow the medical aid scheme to keep track of medical history even if the patient changes their doctor,” he said.

“The main focus of the system is to improve the coordination of care. We also allow individuals to join 

 the programme in consultation with their doctors.”

Mr Zimba said those with relatives in the diaspora who are in need of chronic disease management can also join and their relatives will then pay the management fee.

“We have a facility that will allow diasporans to register their family members on the programme. The system is designed to provide real-time monitoring of patient’s health, medication adherence and lifestyle modifications,” he said.

Mr Zimba said New Health 263’s system also provides tools for health practitioners to communicate with their patients to offer support and guidance.

“The strength of New Health 263’s disease management system is its ability to provide personalised care for patients with chronic conditions. The system uses advanced algorithms to analyse patient data and provide tailored guidance to patients,” he said.

“For example, the system can provide reminders to patients to take their medications, offer suggestions on healthy lifestyle choices and provide real-time alerts to healthcare professionals when patients exhibit concerning symptoms.”

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