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Digital ‘pocket clinic’ provides HIV/AIDS medical information

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South African healthcare start-up Aviro Health unveiled a digitally-enabled service to improve access to HIV/AIDS medical information and healthcare, to mark World AIDS Day yesterday.

Named Aviro Pocket Clinic, the multi-language digital service allows patients to privately and conveniently manage their own care, while still being connected to health providers.

In addition, it walks patients through screening and counselling on their own, including assisting with taking appropriate and practical next steps for a personal test for HIV, says Aviro.

According to the start-up, patients can access the Aviro Pocket Clinic via a data-free mobi-site or WhatsApp chatbot. If the user doesn't have a mobile device at home, they can access the service via tablet-equipped booths at key locations like clinics or pharmacies.

It states: “Aviro Pocket Clinic takes patients on a step-by-step journey through their self-care options; for example, with self-screening for diseases at home or in the booth, delivery of medicine/diagnostics, or automated counselling and links them to the in-person digital services they require.

“The service provides intuitive and customised multi-language support built with extensive user engagement and supported by AI-enabled interactions, but, where the automated service falls short, consultations with healthcare professionals are arranged.”

For health workers to integrate Aviro Pocket Clinic into their care delivery, Aviro says it provides health staff with training, communication materials and digital tools to help them to initiate, monitor, track and support their patients, while the automated platform handles most of the interactions with the patient.

“The reality faced by the healthcare system is that it is not currently set up to provide interventions that enable healthcare workers to support patients with things like remote self-testing and giving referrals to only those that need clinical care,” says Dr Musaed Abrahams, Aviro Health CEO.

“We are supporting health providers with an e-health solution that's been specifically developed to provide efficient, user-friendly and equitable access to healthcare.

“This is a complete patient self-care solution that will dramatically improve the capacity of the health system to manage patients and their data without a health worker present, while also ensuring the availability of information to aid efficient and effective self-care.”

The public rollout of Aviro Pocket Clinic follows a soft launch conducted last year, which saw the digital service used by nearly 50 000 people since. It has also received endorsement by the National Department of Health, states Aviro.

“During our soft launch, we saw that the service is already delivering very positive results. For example, in KZN we found that 7.5% of testers using the service tested positive for HIV and started on ARVs, compared to 2.5% in traditional clinic-based testing,” notes Aviro COO and co-founder Luke Shankland.

“In a population as vulnerable as ours, that's a huge stride in accessibility of testing, diagnosis and treatment, and we are driven to scale it up to reach 10 million people in Sub-Saharan Africa in the next five years.”

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