Minister of Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services, Honourable Monica Mutsvangwa yesterday in a post-Cabinet media briefing disclosed that Cabinet had given the greenlight for the deployment of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in delivering health services.
Minister Mutsvangwa disclosed that a telemedicine pilot project was being rolled out which would enable two-way communication between physicians and patients in remote areas.
“Government wishes to advise that a pilot telemedicine project valued at US$357 632 is being implemented in partnership with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).
“The pilot project entails the use of ICTs to facilitate the provision of clinical health care using real-time two-way communication between physicians and patients at remote rural centres,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
The Minister of Information noted that the pilot project would focus on fifteen (15) health centres that would be linked to Parirenyatwa Referral Hospital allowing sharing of patient data and consultations.
“A total of 15 health centres were equipped with state-of-the-art Transportable Examination Stations (TES) comprising high-resolution autofocus examination cameras, stethoscope, a Total Vital Signs test device, a laptop, ultrasound scan devices, electrocardiography (ECG) services and blood pressure cuffs.
“All 15 centres are linked to Parirenyatwa Referral Hospital, allowing for sharing of patient data and consultations with other referral healthcare institutions,” said the Information Minister.
Minister Mutsvangwa gave out that the advantage of using the Smart Health Programme was that it would result in improved health services delivery and promote real-time decision making as well as disease management.
“The Smart Health Programme will result in improved health service delivery and efficiencies; health surveillance; health-system and records management; health education and clinical decision-making; and support for behavioural changes related to public health priorities and disease management,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
Patients enjoy the following advantages from the smart health programme are offering treatment to patients in the comfort of their homes; confidentiality of medical information; reduction in travelling costs to health facilities; high responsiveness to medical emergencies; and reduced referrals, consultation fees and mortality rates.
The telemedicine solution is part of the Impilo Virtual Health System which was launched in 2021 by the Ministry of Health and Child Care.
The COVID-19 pandemic has seen an increase in the use of ICTs in carrying out their daily duties and people working from home. Smart health initiatives such as telemedicine have proved to be very effective in overcoming barriers to health care and ensuring timely provision of services.