Communication and Data Collection
The LTFHC has initiated a groundbreaking communication system on the shore of Lake Tanganyika. It began with the installation of high frequency radios in DRC health centers that operate without any type of phone service. This allowed these centers to communicate with their regional hospitals to seek advice on patient care and report of infectious disease outbreaks. The LTFHC then expanded this network in rural Tanzania, this time with the addition of a specially tailored electronic medical record (EMR).
By 2015, we will have expanded this network to another eight locations in DRC. This expansion will not only help bridge the communications gap between health centers, but will also establish hub sites that collect and relay electronic data, creating the first medical database in the region. Together, these tools will enable better treatments and preventative practices, leading to greatly improved outcomes for patients, as well as education and training opportunities for health care workers. For the first time, accurate epidemiologic data will be collected via the EMR and transmitted over the radio.
The LTFHC is also consulting with various local media and education organizations about using the network to expand their reach and bring together all the most significant and influential stakeholders in this isolated but strategically critical part of the world.
Finally, the LTFHC has undertaken epidemiologic data surveys in areas that haven’t yet been included in our communications network. This process has started with eight locations in the DRC and we are currently in the process of including multiple additional health centers. These areas are extremely remote, and data collection has previously been incomplete or non-existent, so this will provide the international community with improved understanding of the problems these health centers face and how to begin to help.
Stay tuned for reports and updates on data collection activities.