Rwandans to receive digital healthcare under new partnership

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The Government of Rwanda and Babylon Health have agreed on a 10-year partnership to facilitate provision of quality healthcare services to Rwandans countrywide through their mobile phones.

Through the partnership, Babylon Health (operating as Babyl in Rwanda) will work with the Ministry of Health to develop a new healthcare delivery model called ‘Digital-First Integrated Care’, for convenient access to qualified doctors and nurses, especially for people living in remote areas.

With the help of Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) platform a patient registers on the platform, then will be able to book an appointment.

A medical practitioner will then call them back and take them through a triage process that is further enhanced with the world’s leading AI Triage and Symptom checker platform.

Lab tests results will be shared through the platform as soon as the patient has taken them to the medical institution while prescriptions will be delivered via SMS for patients to buy medication from pharmacies across Rwanda.

According to a statement from the Rwanda Development Board (RDB), holders of Rwanda Social Security Board (RSSB) and Community-Based Health Insurance (Mutuelle de Sante) schemes will have access to the service.

For efficiency, the patients will be able to process their co-pay payments easily using mobile money.
Over time, Babyl’s digital platform will compile Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) of a large proportion of the Rwandan population.
EMRs will also enable more coordinated care for patients through efficient digital referrals and patient information transfer.
Patients are expected to have more control over their own health, faster treatment and less trips to health facilities.

Dr. Daniel Ngamije, the Minister of Health explained that Babyl will work alongside all country’s health institutions and RSSB to deliver the innovative digital healthcare service.

“Increasing access to our doctors will help stop self-diagnosis and self-medication which lead to longer term complications. With the reduced burden on health centres and other medical institutions, our medical professionals will also now spend more time and resources on serious medical cases, further increasing the quality of healthcare delivery across the country,” he said.

Clare Akamanzi, RDB Chief Executive Officer said Babyl’s investment in Rwanda contributes to Rwanda’s National Strategy for Transformation, particularly ensuring access to quality healthcare for all, and establishing Rwanda as a globally competitive knowledge-based economy through such partnerships that build skills with practical digital applications in health.

Tracey McNeill, Vice President of Global Clinical Governance at Babylon Health said the deal is in line with their goal of ensuring universal accessible and affordable health service.

“Babylon Health was founded in the United Kingdom with a single purpose: To put an accessible and affordable health service in the hands of every person on earth. Rwanda was our first choice in our global strategy due to its enabling environment for investors with regard to regulations and infrastructure favourable for tech businesses. We support the Government’s vision of using technology and innovation to drive economic growth, support human development, and advance key sectors including healthcare.”

According to Dr. Solange Hakiba, the Deputy Director General of RSSB, digital healthcare is a significant step towards ensuring that all their members can conveniently access doctors without fear of loss of income or worry about travel to a medical institution.

Early intervention with eased access to healthcare will also reduce the burden on our universal healthcare scheme, she said.

Shivon Byamukama, the Managing Director of Babyl Rwanda praised government for its desire and emphasis on embracing innovation.

“In the short time that we have been operating, we have already amassed over 2 million registered users and delivered over 1 million consultations with doctors and nurses. Rwandans are reacting positively to health care innovation and embracing health seeking behaviours as patients do not have to spend time traveling or experience income loss when seeking care.”

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