Implementing Digital Health Services: Beatrice shares experience
Aviro’s Implementation Manager, Beatrice Wango, reflects on her role in supporting healthcare access using digital technology.
“I mean, we do everything on our phones. If I am in my house and I need some sort of convenience, like buying electricity, groceries, booking a plane, a bus etc. and I can use my phone, then why can’t we do the same with healthcare? When there’s an opportunity to simplify basic healthcare access, it should be on demand.” Health providers know this, but struggle to implement digital services – and this is where Beatrice and Aviro come in. As Aviro’s Implementation Manager in Kenya, Beatrice’s job is to help health providers effectively provide digital services to their clients – i.e. patients.
Beatrice’s main project at present is with Population Services Kenya (PS Kenya), a trailblazer in HIV self-testing, which is considered an entry point to the 95-95-95 targets in the country. Beatrice, with her 9 years+ worth of experience in HIV care and Social Behaviour Change Communications, works with this partner to ensure that more people have access to HIV self-testing so that, in the case of positive results, they are also linked to care through Ithaka. The PS Kenya project is aimed at digitally supporting HIV self-testing and linking patients to care through the Ithaka WhatsApp chatbot. “The ultimate goal is to reach as many people to take an HIV test, know their status and should they be positive, start treatment”, she says.
“I must say that with COVID-19 around we have also seen that through this digital project, we are able to get many people to test.”, pointing to the fact that since the project launched in June 2020, there has been an uptake of 4,122 users, where 2,031 reporting their results and received digital counselling and linkage to care.
Due to COVID-19, Beatrice’s role of training and supporting teams on the implementation has shifted from when it was easier to have sessions and meetings in person. Outside of Covid, Beatrice would be going around facilities ensuring that people successfully register on Ithaka so they can be supported in their HIV self-testing journey. At the moment, Beatrice works through PS Kenya’s mobilisers who recruit people in their communities and workplaces to voluntarily take up HIV self-testing.
Beatrice says that building a successful relationship with healthcare providers has been a strategic approach. “One of the things we believe in at Aviro is developing our tools through the user-centered approach.” Everyone involved gives input and they state what they want and how their information forms part of the flow. “This makes engaging with clients more fulfilling and meaningful for everyone involved”, she adds.
Aviro’s user-centered design approach has also yielded key learnings about patient preferences of how their data and information flows. “On the HIV journey map we noticed that the people using the platform value confidentiality, and so our systems aim to protect their privacy throughout the testing journey”.
So, could digital health be central in supporting communities in accessing healthcare during and beyond the pandemic? Beatrice says yes . “You just need a team that cares about both the patient and the health worker, and then set goals. At Aviro, we have people who are really professional, helpful; and what I like about this team is that everyone is aligned with the objective. We all want to make an impact!” she says.
Beatrice has over nine years experience in Social and Behaviour Change Communications. She has designed and implemented HIV, Family Planning and Climate Change projects through user-centered approaches, and leveraging technology to catalyse change.
Connect and Follow Beatrice on LinkedIn.