5 Comments
JC JC james clark

http://www.quickpay-portal.com/ is a service that is used in order to pay medical bills through online and it is powered by Athena Health. Athena Health is a company that provides cloud based health care services in United States. Basically Athena health company was created in 1997 by Jonathan Bush headquarters located in Watertown, Massachusetts.

Wendy Wang

You may want to further describe how your solution is unique from attempts (in the past and present) to utilize AI in assisting with diagnoses.

Ally Salim

Thank you for your comment. Hopefully we have clarified this more in our proposal.

Tanzania is no stranger to technology-based healthcare solutions. Multiple examples exist, including recent attempts at using smartphone cameras to detect retinal damage and a more AI-inspired solution with the sexual health information chatbot “eShangazi”. The future is looking even brighter with the country pushing electronic health records and moving away from paper based records by 2020. The amount of digital data that will be available will surely push AI applications further.

What differentiates us from past and present attempts at assisting in diagnoses, is our focus on:

1. General Medicine - Allowing for a much wider array of applications, most notably allowing doctors and healthcare providers to deal with more patients of varying conditions. So far, this application has been greatly appreciated by personnel at rural areas where the institution has no certified doctor in house and the number of conditions seen each day can vary.

2. Outbreak Prediction - While still in its experimental stages, we have seen good results in being able to predict disease patterns and interactions (between each other). We are currently working on a partnership with Ministry of Health in implementing AI-powered resource allocation, i.e: sending mosquito nets to places of higher risk, sending more medicine to places expected to have a certain outbreak, as well as investing in educational campaigns for the public to better prepare for suspected outbreaks.

3. Specialist Services - Most institutions do not have a specialist in house - one must travel to other cities to see a dermatologist or cardiologist, resulting in time wasted and generally expensive consults and travel arrangements. We are interested in closing this gap by introducing specialist services at the dispensary level where we are training our algorithms to catch early symptoms and recommend early steps to prevent permanent or long term damage.

Julie Hernandez

This is an impressive and ambitious project. Kudos. I have a few questions. This application can be accessed through a computer or smartphone, correct? What is the cost for a basic consultation? To what portion of the target population is this accessible (how many have 1-smart phones and 2-can afford a consultation)? How do Dr. Elsa fees compare to fees at private clinics?

I'm a bit surprised by the language "disrupting traditional health care." I understand that the national healthcare system is inadequate in its current state, but "disruption" implies an overthrow. Does this solution undermine the work of the government and its overworked doctors or does it strengthen and supplement? Surely the goal should be to work in tandem and coordination with the Ministry of Health, not compete with them. Could you describe what, if any, efforts have you taken to foster partnership with local governments?

Ally Salim

Thank you for your comments! Yes, individuals who want to ask questions to a doctor are able to connect via a mobile or web application.

The cost for a basic consultation through our application is currently free. We hope to reach a range of households and individuals who are unable to afford medical treatment and opt for less expensive self-diagnosis.

Our Health Assistant, which supports healthcare providers in making diagnoses and tracking/ predicting disease outbreaks is designed to be integrated into the health workflow at a dispensary, health clinic, or hospital. Currently, we are offering this service for free to institutions, however in the future this will be a cost that is absorbed by the hospital and will not be directly charged to the patients.

The smartphone penetration in Tanzania is currently 23 million (roughly 42%), and growing exponentially, which allows for those individuals, as well as their families, to access the Dr. Elsa platform. Since the consultation and other health information on the platform is available for free, we believe that any person with a smartphone has the ability to access a doctor. The only cost associated with our platform currently is the data to download and use the application (25mb to download and less than Facebook/ Whatsapp to use).

The cost to go to a private clinic for a doctor consultation in Tanzania is 5,000 TSH ($2.50) at the very low end, and up to 50,000 ($25.00) at the high end, with an average of 20,000 ($10.00). This is not inclusive of of transport fees, time spent waiting for a doctor and the fees associated with creating a new patient file on first visit as well as a “file lookup” fee for a non-first time patient.

We appreciate your comments about our use of the word “disrupting”. We absolutely have no intention of “overthrowing” the current healthcare delivery system. In fact, much of the work we do is in line with the national health initiatives. We work closely with district and regional medical officers, as well as the Ministry of Health in Tanzania to collect data, test our algorithms, and implement our AI health assistant. We seek guidance and approval for all of our programs and systems from government offices in charge of the nation’s health. We are currently in the process of developing a new partnership between the Ministry of Health and private parties to conduct research and ensure our health assistant reaches individuals at their points of care.

We used the word disrupting as a way to share about our use of technology to improve the way that diagnostics happen in the country. We have since altered this wording in our proposal to reflect a more collaborative approach.

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