Tech Helps Kenyan Women Beat Cervical Cancer

Martin Kopp

273396_l_srgb_s_glAccording to the Kenya Cancer Network, 25 out of 100,000 women in Kenya will develop cervical cancer. Of these, 70-80 percent are not detected until the later stages, as lack of awareness among Kenyan women remains a major problem. The largest barrier to care is the high cost of treatment combined with high poverty rates. In addition, there are not enough treatment centers or diagnostic equipment.

But thanks to technology, that is changing.

Heidelberg University Hospital: Digital health breaks barriers

In developed nations, healthcare is undergoing a digital transformation. We see this through the hyper-connectivity of an informed patient population. Consumers are driving industries that develop products such as wearable monitors and health aids. The supercomputing and cloud-based storage technology behind those devices enable a global healthcare community, as connectivity allows doctors to treat patients without seeing them.

Connected care is at the heart of this movement, so healthcare developments like these are a boon to people who need help but lack access. Technology such as SAP HANA uses cloud computing that enables doctors to gather information through mobile devices, giving women in Kenya access to world-class healthcare. That connection makes a huge difference in treating pregnancy-related issues.

Of course, healthcare apps do not replace the traditional relationship between doctor and patient. Rather, they allow doctors to gather information from patients via mobile platforms. Healthcare workers can then use that information to track the progress of pregnancy and share information with patients.

Connectivity is a major driver of the healthcare revolution. Patients no longer need to visit a doctor to find out what is wrong; they are already informed about their condition. App-based care deepens the traditional relationship between healthcare and consumers. That is a powerful advantage, especially in places like Kenya.

Breaking healthcare barriers

Lack of treatment facilities and diagnostic tools, limited awareness, and the high cost of healthcare, remain significant problems in Kenya. But thanks to technology, these issues are diminishing.

Even in developed countries, the cost to healthcare is an issue. It is one of the driving forces around Obamacare in the United States. In places such as Kenya, Big Data is making a difference. Heidelberg University Hospital has developed an app using SAP HANA technology that allows a deeper connection between doctor and patient. The exchange of information is critical in hyperconnected healthcare. Because the app is mobile-based, it can be deployed in remote locations to bring healthcare to millions of women anywhere there is an Internet connection.

Health and well-being: Byproducts of digital transformation

This app helps to increase the knowledge base of women in Kenya. For example, many Kenyans believe that only women who are HIV+ are at risk for cervical cancer. Dispelling that myth encourages more women seek health screenings, therefore reducing the high rates of late detection. That in turn improves treatment options and survival rates.

Also thanks to the app, more women have access to care at earlier stages of pregnancy. It becomes easier to track patient progress, allows doctors to care for more patients, and decreases the cost of healthcare.

The process works by patient engagement via the app. Patients check in, answer questions, and receive information from their doctor. The app creates a positive healthcare ecosystem via health information exchanges. In Kenya, it helps women who are at risk for cervical cancer find doctors who can treat them.

Heidelberg University Hospital is also helping women in Kenya beat cervical cancer with biomedical informatics. In nations with limited healthcare, IT changes the game. The connection between healthcare professionals and patients no longer needs to be face-to-face, and routine care does not need to be clinic-based. Technology is bringing healthcare to rural populations.

Optimized healthcare not only removes barriers to care, it also fits into cost-driven business models, offering greater value for patients and lower costs for healthcare professionals. Cloud-based electronic medical records also enable doctors to treat rural patients without leaving their office.

How to embrace this technology

Digital technology is transforming world healthcare. For practitioners, the real question is how to get on board. The first step is to go digital, including medical records. Educate your patients about the value of these changes. Train and develop a core workforce that understands digital healthcare. Streamline processes between your practice and suppliers.

Efficiency is a key part of cost reduction. Connect to the hyperconnectivity of technology.

To learn more about digital transformation for healthcare, visit here.

Martin Kopp

About Martin Kopp

Martin Kopp is the global general manager for Healthcare at SAP. He is responsible for setting the strategy and articulating the vision and direction of SAP's healthcare-provider industry solutions, influencing product development, and fostering executive level relationships key customers, IT influencers, partners, analysts, and media.