Guyana to launch telehealth app

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By Neola Damon

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, (DPI) –  The ministry of health will soon launch a pilot programme to improve the delivery of healthcare services, and establish inter-agency collaboration with healthcare institutions countrywide. Minister of health, Dr Frank Anthony, M.P., made this disclosure at the launch of the country’s first-ever Health First telehealth app, at the Marriott Hotel, on Saturday.

The virtual platform, which was conceptualised in 2019 by On Call Health, will allow patients to connect easily with health practitioners, through a real-time video-enabled feature.

The programme is a collaborative effort among the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), Guyana Telephone and Telegraph Company (GTT) and healthcare providers. Dr Anthony underscored that this approach will allow healthcare personnel to liaise with each other for additional medical assistance, regardless of geography.

“We are hoping to start a pilot this year, where the person who would be at the health centre would also have internet-enabled devices, so they would have stethoscopes, ultrasound capabilities, and some other tools that will be available to them, that would allow them to do proper or a more thorough examination of the patient, and based on that for the patient, for the doctor on the other side, probably to be able to make a diagnosis with these parameters,” he explained.

He believes this innovative approach has hastened government’s intention to deal with legislation relating to patient and data confidentiality.

“We will have to accelerate the drafting of this legislation and try to get that in parliament, because I think these things have to go hand in hand for people to have that level of confidence. So, that is something that we will work on, and we will be working with you and others, since you are the first in the industry to make sure that we are capturing what we need to capture,” the health minister stated.

This is one of the many initiatives being undertaken by the ministry to transform the healthcare sector.

On Call Health, chief executive officer, Dr Kofi Dalrymple said it is a fundamental partnership between doctor and patient. He said Guyanese will benefit from quality healthcare services offered via the app. The platform presents the opportunity to expand partnership with healthcare facilities, pharmacists and diagnostic labs.

“On Call is focused on building the right partnerships with healthcare providers, employers for public and private sectors and the local and diaspora community. We cannot operate in silence, so we must be increasingly willing to identify our strengths and embrace meaningful collaboration, to the rapidly changing healthcare landscape,” Dr Dalrymple stated.

To this end, he urged all to sign up to the platform as it provides 24-hour access to healthcare practitioners registered in Guyana. It also allows access to international specialists through medical consultation and as such patients can book appointments with available healthcare providers of their choice.

The app is available at https://app.healthfirst.gy.

On Call Health director, Dr Dason Mckenzie, theorised this initiative after, his stay in Wuhan, China. Upon returning home, he spent some time creating the plan, which finally became a reality after receiving a grant through the GCCI’s vision fund.

GCCI’s executive director, Richard Rambarran said that the fruition of the app “speaks to the call of cooperation [and] power of partnership.” He added that the chamber will continue to support entrepreneurs.

Also present at the ceremony were GTT’s chief operations officer, Orson Ferguson, advisor to the minister of health, Dr Leslie Ramsammy and other officials.

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