The Western Cape Government Health in conjunction with Aviro Health has developed an automated Chatbot application system via the WhatsApp platform, which confirms delivery of chronic medication to their clients’ homes. It also allows high-risk chronic patients to confirm an existing appointment before accessing services at their attending healthcare facility, which means they do not have to wait in long queues when going to a facility.
Since the soft launch took place in mid-May 2020, over 700 users have accessed the chatbot, with over 500 completed orders to receive chronic medication. Additionally, approximately 100 users have requested call-backs from healthcare providers in their respective facilities through the platform. These users all heard about the tool by word of mouth from existing users and made their requests from all over the Cape Town Metropole, from Mitchell’s Plain, Plumstead and Edgemead, to the CBD.
“The Department wanted a system that would respond to high-risk chronic patient queries timeously and to give people peace of mind that their medication will be delivered to their homes. The system also allows our high-risk healthcare workers the opportunity to assist clients with their queries without placing their lives in danger as well,” said Mohamed Sonday, Pharmacist at Mitchells Plain Hospital.
“Not only has the chatbot been of value in helping communities receive their medication, but it has also been an easy way for patients to manage their health without increased risk of contracting Covid-19 and simplified the medication distribution process for staff at our healthcare facilities,” said Mohamed.
Lyanne Mapani, Product Manager at Aviro Health, says that there have been lessons on how the platform can better accommodate users who are requesting deliveries on behalf of patients.
“Together with the Department, we are looking at ways to improve the chatbot so that it can be responsive and better serve users who are accessing it to make requests for their loved ones and fellow community members. The tool is clearly of value, but we want to make sure that we are reaching patients where they are. We are looking forward to launching additional features in the future such as, offering the service in multiple languages and supporting users in booking appointments,” said Lyanne.
Between April and May 2020, the Department ensured that approximately 159 000 pre-packed chronic medication parcels were delivered to stable patients’ homes residing in the Western Cape Metropole since the COVID-19 lockdown was implemented. To ensure the safety of their vulnerable patients, the Department has provided all stable and high-risk patients with a 2-month supply of chronic medication. Once their medication has been depleted, the Community Health Workers will deliver medication to their homes. The Department’s data shows people with co-morbidities such as diabetes, hypertension, TB, HIV/Aids, cancer, chronic lung disease and heart disease are at higher risk of becoming severely ill with COVID-19. These persons are invited to join the Chatbot to confirm their medication delivery by adding the number 087 240 6122 to their mobile phones and send a message saying “hi” to start the WhatsApp Chatbot conversation.
About Aviro Health
Aviro is a design-focused health company that uses digital tools to improve the experience of healthcare. Our multidisciplinary team complements empirical observation with the qualities of empathy, narrative and meaning, to create significance and change. Since 2014, Aviro has been designing and implementing mHealth interventions that address the challenges at the interface between patients and health workers. Ithaka is Aviro’s digital platform for empowering patients and improving healthcare accessibility, providing engaging, remote, semi-automated support to patients that improves counselling, reporting and linkage to care; and improves efficiency and outcomes for health workers and programs.