NCD Care is a mobile app facilitating access to high blood pressure and diabetes care in Ghana
Hypertension and diabetes patients in Ghana are now experiencing a unique and more personalized form of care with the launch of a mobile application with self-management tools.
The app has built-in logs that allow patients to enter their daily blood pressure (BP) and blood glucose measurements, which are remotely monitored and managed by their doctors in real time.
Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as hypertension, diabetes and cancer are the leading causes of death worldwide and pose an increasing global health threat. The WHO has projected that by 2030 NCDs are expected to be the leading cause of death in Africa. In Ghana, high blood pressure is a common cause of medical emergencies such as heart and kidney failure.
Over the years, it has become increasingly difficult to sustainably enroll and retain the growing number of people living with NCDs with current service and pricing models. Launched by global healthcare organization PharmAccess and Luscii, a digital healthcare innovator, the NCD Care program has increased access to care for some patients who have been using the app since its launch.
User experience has been positive so far, with testimonials about ease of use. Speaking to journalists about NCD Care during the Global Week for Action on NCDs, Baaba, one of the app’s users, said, “The app is very convenient. I was introduced to the program by my doctor and given my own monitor so I can check my blood pressure from the comfort of my own home.”
With the NCD Care program, patients take their blood pressure or blood glucose readings and enter them into the mobile app, and their doctors receive automatic notifications that provide information about the patient’s health status, so they can call or text them whenever there is a risk exist recognized.
The mobile app allows patients to delegate appropriate care based on risk levels, conduct self-monitoring, and access health information, lifestyle advice, and medication reminder messages. The mobile app helps individuals change their behavior through lifestyle management, medication intake and education. With most African healthcare systems severely underfunded, there is an urgent need for innovative solutions that provide affordable care for the growing patient population.
The partnership came about during the COVID period
Luscii Healthtech, the PharmAccess Foundation and the University of Ghana Medical Center began 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, has been successfully scaled to three African countries with the network and support of PharmAccess. The service allowed people to check themselves for symptoms that could be caused by the coronavirus. Due to the versatility of the app, it has been adapted to monitor two high prevalence non-communicable diseases: diabetes and hypertension. The digital service, now called ‘NCD Care’, complements Ghana’s NCD strategy in line with national health policy. The NCD pilot project has started with three hospitals: University of Ghana Medical Center (UGMC), Greater Accra Regional Hospital (GARH) and 37 Military Hospital.
Responsiveness and involvement of medical staff
The medical staff in the hospitals have been trained and the medical teams are adjusting the structural workflow to integrate the use of the app. The responsiveness of the medical teams so far is commendable. After receiving notifications of irregular blood and glucose readings from their patients, 65% to 75% of notifications are resolved within 48 hours, depending on the type of notification.
The program is designed to improve the health outcomes and responsiveness of participating healthcare workers, with an emphasis on self-management, prevention and management of complicated cases.
The Country Director of PharmAccess Ghana, Dr. Maxwell Antwi, explained that since the program began, patients have been enthusiastic about measuring their blood pressure and blood glucose at least twice a month. In addition to improving health outcomes for patients, the pilot has also increased medical staff involvement, with a focus on self-management, prevention and management of complicated cases.
according to dr Maxwell Antwi, PharmAccess and Luscii share the ambition to bring the digitally-enabled treatment model for chronic patients to market within the next three years. To make this a success, they will optimize to improve outcomes and expand their network of collaborators, including in-country clinicians and healthcare investors.
Thanking the Norwegian Development Cooperation Agency (Norad), PharmAccess Country Director said: “We were able to create a three-year plan with Luscii and optimize the mobile monitoring service. With these promising early results, we hope to expand in Ghana and beyond so we can improve the health prospects of millions of Africans who are still waiting for treatment for NCDs.”
dr Ronald Scheffer, co-founder of Luscii said: “We hope to improve clinical outcomes for patients with noncommunicable diseases and reduce healthcare costs. We have seen strong results in reducing unnecessary hospital visits and improving quality of care across Europe. Our proven technology has the potential to have an even greater impact in Africa, particularly in the treatment of noncommunicable diseases. With this multi-year partnership, we are taking the next step in making our dream of revolutionizing healthcare a reality.”