Changing the frontiers of healthcare

Changing the frontiers of healthcare

AI and cloud computing are likely to dramatically change the way we deliver healthcare into communities, in a highly positive way. By using big data and analytics to deliver real-time insights into healthcare service challenges, large-scale healthcare systems can deliver improved performance and better decision-making.

Microsoft, as one of the world’s largest software companies, and as one of the world’s largest trusted cloud providers, plays a critical role in enabling this delivery. Microsoft4Afrika has partnered with BroadReach, a data-driven solutions company that improves the management and delivery of health programmes in underserved regions around the world.

The company has partnered with Microsoft to develop BroadReach Vantage, an integrated cloud platform built on Microsoft Azure. Vantage delivers powerful analytics that help development, health and human services organisations quickly identify risks and opportunities.

BroadReach is currently one of the fastest growing companies using Microsoft cloud services in South Africa, and is the largest health ISV in Africa. Their digital HIV Portfolio on Management Solution has helped an estimated 340,000 people access HIV treatment in KwaZulu-Natal, where the epidemic is at a peak. The tools have enabled BroadReach to reduce the time taken to analyse data from 1,000 sites in South Africa, from eight months to less than one month after implementing a cloud-based platform to analyse data and communicate findings through automatically generated dashboards.

Vantage, driven by Azure and Power BI, gives individuals in the health system the right information at the right time, with the right recommendations and tools to take action, helping save more lives. BroadReach also uses Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Teams to improve collaboration between project teams in the office and in the field, and are currently integrating Kaizala into Vantage.

South Africa is one of the countries hardest hit by the HIV epidemic globally. Approximately 7,5 million South Africans are HIV positive, which is the largest population of any country in the world. The epicentre of the outbreak locally is in the Ugu district of KwaZulu Natal. This district has a higher prevalence of HIV among pregnant women than any other area in South Africa, with 41 percent presenting as HIV-positive.

BroadReach was able to demonstrate significate health outcomes in supported districts using Vantage, which integrates data immediately from a wide range of sources, and delivers real-time data, actionable insights and step-by-step implementation guidelines to boost effectiveness. Previously, healthcare teams in KwaZulu-Natal were wading through vast volumes of data that had to be manually collated, sometimes taking months to do so, and yet this data didn’t necessarily deliver actionable insights.

In Ugu district, the use of technology has enabled healthcare workers to ensure that HIV-suppression rates among those taking anti-retroviral therapy (ARV) increased from 57 percent to 81 percent. The rate of those completing viral load tests, which determine the concentration of HIV in their blood, jumped from 32 percent to 92 percent, and HIV-suppression rates increased from 57 percent to 81 percent.

The UNAIDS 90/90/90 goal for bringing HIV under control is to ensure that 90 percent of people living with HIV know their status, that 90 percent of them are taking ARVs and that 90 percent of those on ARV treatment take their medication every single day and remain virally supressed.

“If we can hit these ‘Triple 90’ targets, we will get the epidemic under effective control. We actually hit the Triple 90 targets in Ugu District [in 2019], which is a big accomplishment,” says Dr John Sargent, Co-CEO and Co-founder of BroadReach.

“We are now predicting which patients are at risk of stopping medicines and reaching out to them before they stop. We are doing other types of predictive analysis by understanding how particular clinics and staff members are performing, predicting what may happen and intervening before that happens,” says Dr Sargent.

Through partnerships with organisations like BroadReach, the future of healthcare looks set to experience a digital transformation that will benefit both patients and healthcare providers alike, with innovative use of technology including AI and cloud computing providing positive outcomes on all fronts.