The paper, Taking Medical Health Records into the Future , highlights opportunities and threats in the use of digital health records and makes a case for introducing a digital system in rural Kenya to improve the provision and planning of health services.

Matthew Fielding, Project Manager at SEI and lead author of the paper, said,“As in the field of energy, in healthcare there are big opportunities to leapfrog intermediate local-area networks reliant on local servers and jump straight into an online and confidential system of health records”.

The paper is based on ongoing work in the AFYA project , led by SEI and funded by the Gates Foundation, which is testing how cash incentives can encourage pregnant women to make regular health visits for antenatal care, facility delivery and postnatal care in rural Kenya. The project covers 3,600 pregnant women and their infants across 50 health facilities in Siaya County.

Rodgers Muhadi of NaiLAB , the start-up accelerator which is a partner in the Afya project, presented the paper at Nairobi Innovation Week , which ran in Nairobi from 1–5 August. This annual event is organized in line with the Kenya Vision 2030 and its Science, Technology and Innovation Act, which places innovation at the centre of Kenya’s development strategy.

Afya plans to use an electronic card to track patients’ clinical visits during pregnancy and after delivery and save patient information in a database for easy access and analysis. An added advantage of this system is to ease limited resources and overstretched staff at the clinics.

Kenya’s President, H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta, opened the event and highlighted how innovation is key to Kenya’s future. He particularly encouraged the use of innovative ideas relevant to social issues, and pledged USD 1,000,000 to support the organization of next year’s event.

Download the conference paper
(PDF: 406 KB)