mHealth artificial intelligence application debuts for Zambian HIV patients


An intelligent app to assist in the treatment and management of HIV patients is launched in Zambia this week. Significant anticipation surrounds the development as if successful, the technology could be extended to assist with the management of other diseases.

Developed for the Zambian Ministry of Health by two teams from the Clinton Health Access Initiative, it avoids the more usual approach of digitizing volumes of existing guidelines, and instead employs elements of Human-Machine Learning (HML). In other words it shifts the focus onto the creation of an app that is configured and programmed firstly to understand large volumes of guideline-content and then to intelligently apply this knowledge to specific patient needs within a consultation. The result, the developers hope, is an app that can be used by any health worker, and from simple data gleaned can understand the needs of a particular patient, and then quickly provide a concise response on next treatment steps required.

The Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI) is an international NGO, working towards increasing patient access to life saving drugs, for the treatment and prevention of HIV, TB and other disease areas. The new app, called ZamCG is a collaboration between the Zambian and South African country teams.

Sponsored by CHAI Zambia as the product owner, and produced by CHAI South Africa as the innovator, the app is designed to intelligently understand and dynamically respond to patient needs for accurate clinical guidance.

The project team recognised early on that digital content that can only be used as reference material would quickly become obsolete.

So they set about developing something much more intuitive, and have coined the phrase Activate Consultation to describe what they have come up with. It has been designed to support any healthcare worker in actual live consultations with upto 5 patients at a single point in time. Based on a few simple inputs from the nurse, the app will quickly assess the unique position and condition of each patient in the consultation – and will proceed to instantly generate actionable advice and results that are tailored and specific to each of the patients in the nurse’s consultation. Results are based on the app’s in-built understanding of the clinical guidelines content and will appear on a per-patient basis, on a single screen for up to 5 patients at a time (i.e. maximum of 5 patients within a single consultation, like a family etc.)

This module is envisaged to empower healthcare providers with renewed confidence in their consultations, and will dynamically interact with end-users to provide an accurate, reliable and rapid response on a plethora of topics that span the clinical guidelines, including: HIV testing services, treatment, prophylaxis, monitoring and evaluation, treatment failure, co-morbidities, and HIV programme management.

There are a variety of individuals that form the body of end-users of this application though it is primarily developed for nurses, doctors and patient-facing medical staff – but it could also be of value to other professionals interested in infectious diseases, academicians, researchers, students, civil society, advocacy groups and other related partners.

Just launched in Zambia, ZamCG is viewable on the Google Play store and will soon be available from the Apple and iOS stores.

Source: Bryan Pearson, Africa Health 


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