The COVID-19 Activities of the Sri Lanka Connected Health Alliance (SLCHA) Members

14th May 2020

The Sri Lanka Connected Health Alliance was established by the Health Informatics Society of Sri Lanka in affiliation with the European Connected Health Alliance (ECHA) and the Commonwealth Centre for Digital Health (CWCDH).  It was launched on 17 October 2019 at the Digital Health Sri Lanka 2019 Conference in Colombo, Sri Lanka. SLCHA comprise of a consortium of leaders from both the public and private sectors, working in the digital health space.

The main objective of setting up the alliance is to bring together a community of stakeholders working together in the same ecosystem interested in developing a joint health agenda, aiming to address and find common solutions to challenges facing that specific region and break down silos. The other benefit of working together in an ecosystem is the multiplier effect of collaborating in an international network of ecosystems of the ECHA and the impact it can have on economic growth. 

The first monthly meeting of the Alliance was held on 19 February 2020 as a clinical-digital health collaboration at Sri Lanka Medical Association (SLMA) Auditorium. All stakeholders were invited and the Sri Lanka Connected Health Alliance Logo was launched. Two presentations were done on Healthcare Entrepreneurship & about a Digital Platform which can be used by start-ups.

Online Meeting on COVID-19 related activities by Connected Health Alliance (SLCHA) members in Sri Lanka

The COID-19 pandemic started engulfing the world in the month of March 2020. The SLCHA held video conference on 30 March 2020 with members of the Alliance with the objective of identifying how the membership can contribution to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic in Sri Lanka.  The table below summarizes how the members of the alliance have been contributing to the mitigate the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hemas/AyuboHospital Health SystemRemote Patient MonitoringDeveloped and implemented a tracker to monitor patients at home as well as provide relevant information around the Coronavirus. The tracker could potentially be used by Public Health Officials for monitoring of COVID+ patients
OdocStartupTelemedicineProviding free consultations to callers through their telemedicine applications
ScreeningReleased a trilingual self-assessment tool based on WHO protocols
My Doctor (My Health Solutions Pvt Ltd)StartupTelemedicinePartnered with Dialog to refer calls from patients to doctors free of charge, through the 1390 service
SLMA/Mobitel Doc247StartupScreeningProviding services for free, as well as a screening process for patients as a first port-of-call before seeking hospital care if needed
E-channelling PLCCompanyTelemedicinePartnered with odoc to provide audio consultations through their 225 service
Bileeta Pvt LtdCompanyPopulation Outbreak ManagementMonitoring the footprint of the virus based on MoH dataIdentified 130 cities at risk, and evaluated the risk level of each city  
Healthnet Pvt LtdCompanyDeliver pharmaceuticals for Tele-PrescriptionsDelivery of prescription medication during curfew timesDissemination of information around coronavirus to the public through social media channels  
Dialog AxiataCompany Partnered with MyDoctor.lk to enable remote patient monitoring service through 1390 service  
Digital Pulz Pvt LtdStartupHealthcare software solutionsDeveloped and maintain laboratory information management system of the virology department of MRI as a CSR project Extend the service to register COVID patients at ITU, University Hospital of Kotalawela Defence University (UHKDU). Also billing modules of health information mgt. system of digital pulz as a CSR project
Commonwealth Center for Digital Health – UK Hub at University of Southampton, United KingdomAcademicGroup of Sri Lankan Commonwealth fellows in Digital Health, University at Southampton, United Kingdom.Assistance in digital health activity for the Ministry of Health, Sri Lanka including  framework  development  in Telemedicine. World related- Analysis of Digital health technology for COVID19 management, projection analysis on COVID 19 health care burden. Learning and sharing experience of  Health Information systems used in UK.  
Commonwealth Center for Digital Health and Health Informatics Society of Sri LankaNon Profit / Professional COVID-Shield – An app to track and monitor those in self isolation and in quarantine was developed and launched within a period of 3 weeks. It is now integrated to the covide.iq.lk website
Health Informatics Society of Sri Lanka ( HISSL)  and Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA)Professional/
Government
 Developed the COVID-19 surveillance system for the ministry of health on the dhis2 platform. It was taken globally by the dhis2 community – https://www.dhis2.org/covid-19 and now implemented in 11 countries and awaiting deployment in 23 countries.

Challenges identified

  • Regulatory mechanisms for digital health applications and procedures
  • Logistics management including problems in catering high demand for online medication delivery
  • Standardization (clinical procedures/workflows and use of standards such as ICD 10, SNOMED CT)
  • Technology adoption and training for healthcare professionals
  • Professional and public behavioural and attitude change to accept digital health interventions.

Recommendations & Requirements

  • Develop more public – private partnerships to expand existing digital health services.
  • Develop partnerships to build digital health skills among all categories of healthcare staff to facilitate the uptake and scaling of digital health solutions in the current and future environments
  • Map the contributions and potential contributions of the non-governmental sector to fighting the COVID-19 outbreak, and identify opportunities to encourage and bolster multisectorial partnerships among the GoSL, private and social sectors, thus improving Sri Lanka’s pandemic preparedness
  • Expand government-driven incentives to proactively engage private sector in med product development and provide an agile and sophisticated response to the coronavirus
  • Ensure use of best practice digital principles on all solutions developed in health and digital health tech as a response to the crisis.
  • Namely:
    • Design with the user
    • Understand the existing ecosystem
    • Design for scale
    • Build for sustainability
    • Be data driven
    • Use open standards
    • Re-use and improve
    • Address privacy and security
    • Be collaborative
    • Interoperability
  • Developing/adopting guidelines to facilitate smooth function of digital communications on,
    • Telescreening
    • Telemonitoring
    • Teleconsultations
    • Teleprescriptions
    • Telediagnos
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