Free mobile and web-based COVID-19 pre-screening symptom checker launched to help flatten the curve
YALI Fellows Jessica Chivinge, Rhobhi Matinyi Farai Chikumbu and their business associate Farai Chikumbu have founded a healthtech start-up called epione.net. epione.net is an end-to-end healthcare platform that seamlessly connects all stakeholders in the healthcare value chain for improved patient care delivery.
With the COVID-19 pandemic now reaching Africa’s cities and townships – the majority of which are not amenable to precautionary measures such as social distancing and self-isolation – it is highly likely that the number of infected people will grow faster than currently being observed. This, in turn, will cause a severe burden on the already overstrained healthcare systems of most African countries. Governments should be managing mortalities due to COVID-19 and this can be done more effectively through monitoring and tracking the patients with positive outcomes from testing and ensuring that they receive the required attention to manage their health as well as, to the extent possible, manage further spreading.
“We took to heart Isaac’s call-to-action to do something that would benefit the continent and consider this to be our collective YALI project and now our business and lifelong passion. Farai is Chief Technology Officer and Rhobhi is Chief Strategy Officer,” says YALI Fellow Jessica, who is the Chief Operating Officer of epione.net.
Epione.net has built a pre-screening symptom checker into its platform that connects all stakeholders in the healthcare value chain, enabling a seamless patient journey. The pre-screening symptom checker allows patients anywhere to monitor the evolution and progression of their symptoms and provides prompts that enable patients to seek medical attention when appropriate. The patient is then given options of screening doctors that they can book and a case flow is created on the platform including electronic referrals for testing, advice on the outcomes – positive or negative, post monitoring and tracking of the recovery of the patient. epione.net Founder and CEO, Garikai Govati, says: “The idea behind self-monitoring is to alleviate the pressure on healthcare infrastructure by streamlining and focusing resources on symptomatic patients and thus ‘flattening the curve’ – it does not intend to take healthcare providers out of the equation.”
Once a COVID-19 case is activated on the platform, it will soon have the capability to notify the government and assist in data collection as well as effective monitoring and tracking of the patient to better understand their social circumstances. It will also incorporate geo-spatial mapping to help decisionmakers with identifying hot spots through heatmaps.
The epione.net platform connects the entire healthcare value chain, from patients to providers (doctors and hospital systems), payors (governments, employers and intermediaries such as health insurers) and producers (pharmacies and diagnostic companies). “Our audacious vision is to create an ecosystem in which technology facilitates access to quality healthcare by promoting and supporting collaborative and coordinated care with one true source of patient information benefiting everyone, starting in Africa,” shares Farai.
Designed with Africans in mind, the platform is accessible via a secure web-portal for healthcare professionals and both a mobile application (Android and iOS) and web-portal for patients, free of charge. The platform not only digitises healthcare processes across the value chain, but it also integrates private and public health systems to ensure that all patient information is stored under one platform, no matter where a patient receives their healthcare. The platform is also adaptable to different systems and is, therefore, able to quickly respond to challenges, as is the case with its enhancement to support COVID-19 efforts.
All users enjoy the following benefits, which target their needs:
- Patient profiles that are owned by the patients, with access permissions controlled by them.
- Automated, seamless and secure online referrals between primary and secondary clinicians, closing the feedback gap.
- An online marketplace for theatre space across hospitals, opening up opportunities for more efficient theatre utilisation through seamless bookings and management.
- End-to-end patient care case flows where practitioners can truly collaborate and coordinate around patient care.
Garikai explains that as African countries move towards universal health coverage in all its different forms – the National Health Insurance in South Africa being one such example – epione.net is a ready-made solution which governments can adopt in a bid to strengthen their healthtech infrastructure. “In fact, with additional functionalities and capabilities such as data analytics and reporting, AI and machine learning to be launched by the end of this year, epione.net will also support health systems administrators execute key functions such as budgetary planning and population health management.”
The epione.net platform is currently live in two hospitals in Soweto with a select number of doctors and practice managers partaking in both pilots, and the COVID-19 pre-screening symptom checker is available to anyone who downloads the app. The platform launched in Zimbabwe on the 8th of April.
“Ultimately, epione.net aims to reduce costs, improve quality and increase access to healthcare for all,” concludes Rhobhi.
To access the pre-screening symptom checker, or for more information, go to https://epione.net/