Rocket Health

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A 24/7 telemedicine service that offers convenient access to quality family planning, sexual reproductive health [KP1] and other health services in Uganda.

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CONTACT

Dr. Davis Musinguzi
Managing Director
Email

CASE STUDY SOURCE

The Medical Concierge Group

PROJECT STATUS

Ongoing

IMPLEMENTATION PARTNERS

The Medical Concierge Group.

FUNDER

PRIVATE FOR PROFIT ORGANIZATION

GEOGRAPHIC SCOPE

Uganda

Target Users

Client

Enabling Environment Building Blocks

Services and Applications

Family Planning Program Classification

Client to Provider Communication, Targeted Client Communication, Demand Generation

INTRODUCTION

Uganda has a predominantly young population with over 60 percent of the 47 million people aged below 30 years yet with one of the region’s highest fertility rates (5 live births per woman). [1] These population dynamics occur in relatively high poverty rates, low literacy levels, and cultural barrier settings that perpetuate the cycle.

Adolescent girls and Young Women (AGYW) are disproportionately affected due to the lack of access to credible Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) information and services for proper decision-making. [2]

The traditional health care system is not designed to be youth-friendly, does not allow for adequate privacy, and is associated with long waiting times in queues (no less than four hours). As a result, the AGYW opt for self-medication, rely on peer advice for SRH information, and only visit a hospital in severe or persistent health conditions.

As a result, cases of misdiagnosis, inaccurate SRH information use, high expenditure on unexpected health concerns, and adverse SRH complications (e.g., unplanned pregnancies, unsafe abortions, STIs, etc.) are common occurrences.

ABOUT ROCKET HEALTH

Rocket Health operates a 24/7 telemedicine service that offers convenient access to quality SRH services. [3] This service is offered through an in-house 24/7 medical call center staffed with doctors, counselors, and pharmacists that offer remote resolutions of clients’ inquiries via voice (Hotline) and text (SMS, WhatsApp) platforms. This also houses the on-demand medicine delivery and laboratory sample pick-up services for a client’s convenience. We leverage both traditional advertising (billboards, radio) and social media (Facebook, Twitter) to publicize the SRH services offered and to reach the target audiences.

In addition, Rocket Health operates an online medical e-Shop (www.rockethealth.shop) which offers a self-service option for any SRH services. Data collected and recorded in the electronic health records include demographic details (age, sex, location) and SRH services procured, including emergency contraception, family planning services, HIV self-testing, and sexually transmitted disease screening. This virtual setting offers a more convenient, private, and less stigmatizing space where users can order and receive their SRH services. Follow-up calls and automated SMS reminders are used to collect information on health outcomes and the impact of the health services offered.

In addition, ensuring access to accurate health information, Rocket Health develops and disseminates mobile health content on varying SRH topics to support correct and early decision making. This mobile health content is translated into local languages.

Rocket Health is funded through a hybrid of mechanisms where partnerships with private health insurance companies create a market for our SRH services and products among clients with health insurance premiums. Also, direct one-off purchases are accommodated.

EVALUATION AND RESULTS

A retrospective review and analysis of documented electronic medical records from The Medical Concierge Group (TMCG), the digital health company offering Rocket Health SRH services for the quarter of January to March 2021, was done. A total of 759 SRH service-related teleconsultations were handled across the digital platforms (voice & text).

LESSONS LEARNED

  • Digitally supported SRH information and service delivery is highly adaptable among youths (15 to 35 years).
  • Models that promote differentiation on SRH services delivery help to tailor individual needs in health services delivery.
  • Integrating telemedicine in the current differentiation of health services, as in HIV/AIDS care, is relevant for SRH services.
  • The level of privacy and confidentiality created by the digital platforms allows users to seek services that would otherwise be discriminatory or stigmatizing in public.
  • There is a need to build information technology (IT) system infrastructure and an enterprise approach is needed in the SRH/family planning digital health landscape in Uganda, as this will enable to effectively deploy systems that are interoperable and talk to each other across different services providers. This will ensure continuity to accessing services beyond a single provider.

CONCLUSION

Integrating telemedicine in the last-mile delivery of sexual and reproductive health services allows for the utilization of services that are labeled as stigmatizing. Rocket Health has built partnerships including private health insurance companies like UAP-Old Mutual, Liberty, Prudential, ICEA, and also cooperate company partnerships for example with MTN where we run the MTN-pulse campaigns that target youths. The need for custom digital innovations to suit local needs is important for eventual adoption and use within target audiences.

REFERENCES

  1.  WorldoMeter (2021), Uganda Demographic. Accessed 21st September 2021. Available online: https://www.worldometers.info/demographics/uganda-demographics/#median-age
  2. Ivanova O, Rai M, Mlahagwa W, Tumuhairwe J, Bakuli A, Nyakato V N and Kemigisha E (2019). A cross-sectional mixed-methods study of sexual and reproductive health knowledge, experiences, and access to services among refugee adolescent girls in the Nakivale refugee settlement, Uganda. Available online https://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/s12978-019-0698-5
  3. Kamulegeya LH, Bwanika JM, Musinguzi D, Bakibinga P. Continuity of health service delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic: the role of digital health technologies in Uganda. Pan Afr Med J. 2020 May 20;35(Suppl 2):43. doi: 10.11604/pamj.supp.2020.35.2.23115. PMID: 33623568; PMCID: PMC7875742.