In the healthcare space, advancements in research and the development and adoption of advanced technologies have allowed for a deeper understanding of human health – ultimately leading to increasingly effective ways to not only prevent, but also treat diseases. Certainly, in Africa there has been notable progress in this regard.
This adoption and integration is only set to grow – with the software, hardware and service market related to artificial intelligence in healthcare set to surpass $34 Billion Worldwide by 2025. “Microsoft has always believed that improving healthcare through technology requires working together through partnerships with organisations who hold expertise within the field and identifying the right team who hold a shared passion and insights. This has enabled us to create a broad range of cloud-based tools and solutions that touch many aspects of the development and delivery of effective healthcare,” says Hicham Iraqi Houssaini, Country Manager for Microsoft in Morocco.
According to the Africa Prosperity Report 2019/20, Morocco has the continent’s highest immunisation rates – ranking 9th overall in prosperity out of 54th regions in Africa, and 9th on general health. It should be no surprise then that to provide better care to cancer patients, non-profit foundation Lalla Salma has turned to Microsoft Power BI – with which the organisation has been able to track and analyse data, using these insights to improve outcomes for patients.
Founded in 2005, the foundation has aimed to ensure that fighting cancer remains a public health priority, working in cooperation with the Moroccan Ministry of Health, the government agency that oversees health care in Morocco. Through Houses of Life, a network of residential facilities throughout the country, Lalla Salma has been able to support and accommodate patients during cancer treatment, offering between 6,000 and 12,000 overnight stays per year and access to social workers and other specialised health providers.
Uncovering the bottlenecks and finding a solution
Delivering timely and meaningful care to these patients is of crucial importance, given the nature of the Houses of Life programme. Upon closer inspection, staff and volunteers realised that the legacy tools previously used were not effective enough in allowing the programme to run smoothly. Staff needed to gather a vast variety of data such as occupancy rates, transfer times, times between initial consultations and multidisciplinary meetings, treatment plans and medication regimes for each patient.
With Power BI, the team is able to pull data from multiple sources such as databases, Excel spreadsheets, and Word documents – it has also made data tracking considerably easier for the foundation’s IT staff. The tool also visualises data in dashboards and easy-to-run reports, creating insights that are updated in real time.
“Before we had dashboards, we had to collect the data manually, on paper or with Excel files, and perform the calculations,” says Soumaya Fatemi, a computer science engineer with the foundation. “It took us so long. Now, our dashboards are updated daily, and we don’t have to waste time summarising data. The dashboard does it for us.”
Real insights mean patients benefit the most
Through the use of the Power BI solution, staff at Lalla Salma have been able to identify further hidden issues in procedures that had hindered patient care protocol. Detailed insight into the types of medications the centres use and need has enabled staff to fine-tune delivery and stocking – providing actionable lessons that have helped bring life-saving drugs to patients more quickly.
“With this tool, we are able to know in detail the actual consumption of drugs by cancer type and by therapeutic protocol,” says Fakhkhari. “We are able to rationalise budgets, plan drug orders, and better manage our stocks and resources, therefore treating more patients.”
The volunteer programme also makes use of the Power BI solution to optimise the time of its unpaid helpers. Dashboards display the hours worked by each volunteer and the tasks performed by each – providing insight into what kind of assistance is requires and where. Similarly, when the dashboard reveals a shortage of volunteers, staff can automatically recruit to help fill the gaps.
“As the continent continues to embrace digital transformation, we are hopeful that we will see more adoption, integration and success – working with partners and customers across the industry to ensure practitioners and patients are able to achieve and receive more respectively,” concludes Houssaini.