Emergency Healthcare

Technology series on Healthcare

Accident and Emergency centers (A&E) are one the most critical departments in a hospital. This is a medical treatment facility specializing in emergency medicine, the acute care of patients who present without prior appointment; either by their own means or by that of an ambulance. The A&E department is usually found in a hospital or other primary care centers. These provide initial treatment for a broad spectrum of illnesses and injuries, some of which may be life-threatening and require immediate attention. The very nature of this department makes it a very important function of any hospital. A&E departments in Kenyan hospitals face a myriad of challenges.

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Overcrowding. This is a common occurrence in several healthcare institutions in Kenya thus leading to the inability to treat all patients in an adequate manner. This can often lead to poorer patient outcomes and even fatalities. This can also lead to overworked healthcare workers and hence affect quality of care being given to patients.

Accident and Emergency centers (A&E) are one the most critical departments in a hospital. This is a medical treatment facility specializing in emergency medicine, the acute care of patients who present without prior appointment; either by their own means or by that of an ambulance. The A&E department is usually found in a hospital or other primary care centers. These provide initial treatment for a broad spectrum of illnesses and injuries, some of which may be life-threatening and require immediate attention. The very nature of this department makes it a very important function of any hospital. A&E departments in Kenyan hospitals face a myriad of challenges.

This can be solved through and efficient queuing management system. This is less about the technology being used and more about the brain and strategy behind the system. This ideally should reduce patient waiting time, prioritize levels of emergency (life threatening, infections, type of emergency,etc), Comfort of patient, optimize staff performance and ease of use. Advances in technology have enabled incorporation of mobile devices to this. For example one can monitor que activity and movement through their smart phone. Some systems are also capable of allowing the patient to pre-book appointments before arriving the facility, this means they are allocated the correct facility before hand without going to overcrowd emergency departments.  Other solutions can be having WiFi in hospitals,

Telemedicine is already disrupting the approach to emergency care. For example, an ambulance fitted with cameras and internet connectivity to send real time information to A&E in hospitals can have a huge impact on the lives of patients. This means that paramedics can communicate with doctors in real time thus increasing the likelihood of survival for the patient by upto 60%. This will also enable the emergency department to be better prepared for the patient, be it tests or surgery. Connectivity will also assist the paramedics in the ambulance to communicate with several healthcare providers at once to assist them to make better informed decisions on where to take the patient. Ambulances can be fitted with tracking equipment that sends real time data to where it is needed. Telemedicine can also be useful to avoid overcrowding in large healthcare facilities such as referral hospitals.

Over 50 percent of patients appearing at Kenyatta National Referral Hospital Emergency wings do not necessarily need to be there in person. They could get the emergency care they need from their regional facilities through remote communication with specialists from the referral hospitals. This would reduce time and expenses used to travel to these facilities.

In the United Kingdom, NHS utilizes a simple online E-health questionnaire to assist patients in determining whether they need to visit the Emergency department in a hospital. This is through the use of interactive questionnaires, one inputs their symptoms and conditions and the system either advises and assists in booking appointment where necessary. For such conditions as common cold, the system will advise on alternatives for treatment as most cases do not need a visit to the hospital. This can be implemented in Kenya, this can be through mobile /web applications or mobile USSD.

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  1. Jesse Githua

    Emergency healthcare

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