A new wave of mobile technology, mHealth, is having a dramatic impact on the way health care is delivered to both urban and rural communities in Kenya.
This technology has tremendous potential to strengthen health systems in low and middle-income counties through better access to knowledge and information, improved service delivery and reduced response time during crises.
Several counties are now integrating mobile phones into a range of health applications. These include: Promotion of vaccination campaigns, monitoring TB treatment adherence, communicating test results and monitoring patients’ conditions, tracking malaria prevention and control efforts, delivering behavioural change messages to improve awareness and reinforcing healthy behaviours.
This has made it possible for physicians practising in rural areas, to manage a wide range of acutely ill patients, improve accessibility to specialists, and reduce barriers to care in under-served regions.
Further, physicians in many specialties are discovering new avenues for using telemedicine to expand their practice, reach new patients, and potentially improve the care of patients who historically have had poor access to these services.
Increased use of telemedicine is challenging and changing the time-honoured image of the rural physician toiling into the twilight, taking care of a sick patient in a rustic two-room office, and then trekking 10 miles to the hospital to check in on a seriously ill patient.
The proximity of specialists and services via teleconferencing, as well as the expanding network of telemedicine sites, connects rural clinics to academic centres or health systems, which benefit physicians in both rural and urban settings.