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The current global coronavirus crisis has highlighted the need for efficiency in information management.

It has brought to the fore the need for accuracy in data gathering for faster medical response.

While looking at the role of technology during this period, partnerships have stood out in driving meaningful change.

Microsoft has for example, through its 4Afrika Initiative formed partnerships with healthcare facilities - providing them with technical support and business consultancy to help them achieve their goals.

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Each of these facilities has had a sphere of influence, with firms using their existing platforms and programmes to pivot and adapt existing technologies to address the pandemic.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning in healthcare have also helped boost response times and preparedness. Using big data analytics to deliver real-time insights into healthcare means improved performance and better decision-making. This means using AI to save lives.

For example, Microsoft4Afrika partnership with BroadReach, a healthcare software vendor has enhanced data-driven solutions to manage and deliver health programmes in underserved regions.

 Quick responses

Together, they created Vantage, a cloud platform - delivering analytics that help development, health and human services organisations identify risks and opportunities. During Covid-19 crisis, BroadReach has been using its cloud services to gather data from health workers in the field and instantly upload it into Vantage - guiding leaders to manage the impact of the pandemic.

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In healthcare, quick responses save lives. BroadReach has produced a facility readiness survey that allows the State to redirect resources to prioritised hospitals and facilities. Predictive analysis can be used to help forecast and track outbreak hotspots.

This demonstrates how partnerships in technology can deliver in situations that require high volumes of data for use in prediction and preventative measures.

A pact with Raphta, a pioneer in Edge AI and computer vision in Africa, has produced software and hardware solutions that allow contactless biometrics for use to access control to facilities among others.

Raphta is now offering its Shuri Face Contactless Biometrics solution to hospitals, clinics and buildings for thermal screening and containment, limiting contact and virus spread.

Using their AI facial recognition software and hardware technology, they have added thermal imaging technology.

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The firm is now running pilot projects at Netcare Gardens Hospital in South Africa and Kenyatta National Hospital, Nairobi. 

Telemedicine is also enabling safer diagnosis, limiting unnecessary contact between patients and healthcare providers.

In Pakistan, Sehat Kahani, an e-health start-up supported by 4Afrika provides patients with access to qualified doctors and records. The challenge in Africa is working with partners to bridge the gap in healthcare.

- The writer is the regional Director of Microsoft’s 4Afrika Initiative

Pandemic Technology Covid-19
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