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Smartphone App to Link South African Patients with Deadly Disease to Care


An initiative led by Associate Professor Jason Farley, in conjunction with emocha, a mobile health platform that supports applications for remote patient management, has launched a system in South Africa to link thousands of patients afflicted with multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) to specialized clinics for care.

Every year, close to 16,000 people in South Africa are diagnosed with this deadly strain of tuberculosis. Of these, half do not return to the clinic for care. To bridge the gap, emocha has created a data interface with the National Health Lab Service (NHLS) and engineered three mobile applications that work in harmony to identify patients and coordinate care from diagnosis through initiation of treatment.

The project is part of the MDR-TB Partnership, an international, multi-sector effort to stop tuberculosis, South Africa’s leading cause of death. The initiative is led by Farley, PhD, MPH, CRNP, FAAN, in collaboration with emocha, the National Department of Health South Africa, Jhpiego-SA, and the NHLS.

“MDR-TB remains a global public health crisis,” said Farley. “Rapid diagnosis must be followed by rapid linkage to care and initiation of treatment. Our smartphone applications, powered by emocha, will reduce the gap between diagnosis and linkage to care.”

Primary Health Clinics, Linkage Officers, and specialized MDR-TB Clinics each have a tablet-based application to register, track, and document contact and initiation of patients. In addition, patients are alerted to NHLS laboratory results to improve continuity of care.

“This is a very high-impact project with the potential to link thousands of patients across the country to care,” said emocha CEO Sebastian Seiguer. “We have been designing and engineering the system with global health experts for over a year now, and we are excited to see this system go live,” said Seiguer.


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emocha Mobile Health is a mobile health platform that supports a wide range of applications for remote patient management. Clinicians and researchers use the platform for mobile data collection, education, and communication. Additionally, a web interface provides real-time data visualization and analytics. emocha has been implemented in more than ten countries across four continents.

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