The Muzinda-Umuzi hosted Hack ForHealth kicked off early this morning on a low key as only a handful of techies turned out for the event. It is hoped that more will attend as the Hackathon gathers momentum (if you’re a developer, this event is for you so try to make it). Despite the disappointed attendance so far, the hackathon has opened a lid on the problems in our local health services sector and it will be interesting to see how the hackers who made themselves available will tackle these.
It appears the main challenge in our Health Services delivery system (not pandemics and diseases but “systems and processes”) is that the whole system is based on paper records which are difficult to not only analyse but to also access from one central database. Many people in Zimbabwe use multiple health practitioners and in most cases people, the decision is based on the nearest one or the least expensive one.
Ultimately, one person will have multiple medical records in the hands of several practitioners making it difficult for a well informed continuation of treatment.
Micheal Matiashe, a representative from Hitrac, a health informatics company said the little computerised records are often incompatible, using different programs for different kinds of data, “even within the same hospital”.
Ironically, most digitalised data in our hospitals focus on demographics and the money patients pay and not the patients health records for proper continuation of treatment information.
One of the Presenters, Ronald Munjoma, said there was need for a national e-health system whose existence is largely in the hands of government taking initiative, to come up with an e-Health strategy (what are the chances?).
This e-Health strategy will help standardise deployment of technology in the health sector and improve efficiency is health service delivery.
Surprise surprise, not a single leading health company (from health insurance, health service providers, etc) pitched for this crucial part of the Hack to outline some of problems that local techies may attempt to solve.
Maybe they were not invited for this “open for all event”. Just shows how far we are from our dream ecosystem.
Anyway, the hackathon is ongoing until Saturday when the teams on show will present their solutions to the problems presented. Hopefully the ideas developed will be followed up on and possibly come to good use in our tech starved health service delivery system.
The Health For Hack is taking place non-stop until Saturday at 58 Alpes Road, Vainona Harare.