A major issue in South Africa is the long queues at public hospital pharmacies. Many patients who rely on public healthcare have to regularly take a day off work to collect their chronic medicines. Through Right ePharmacy, in conjunction with the Department of Health and BBD, an innovative approach using electronic smart lockers is now offered. This is helping to alleviate the problem of medicine collection in urban and rural areas across the country.
A critical step in helping ease the burdens around collecting medicine is in eliminating the backlogs as quickly as possible through last-mile delivery to patients while simultaneously minimising company costs.
For Right ePharmacy, moving to the cloud was the obvious solution.
“In order to achieve this, our centralised solutions require a global presence of hosted applications and the ability to connect to both the patients as well as the depots and last mile locations” explains Fanie Hendriksz, managing director at Right ePharmacy. “Some of the challenges we faced included deploying these smart locker services in regions with no connectivity. For this we reached out to BBD, our software development partner who architected a hybrid data transfer approach using a mixture of mobile, fixed line and proprietary transfer methods to keep the data hosted in the cloud near real-time.”
Part of the success of this venture is in how the smart lockers alert patients on when they can collect their chronic medication from one of the nearest Collect & Go smart lockers, and in the mobile application software that relays data connectivity where no internet connectivity exists – especially in rural areas. BBD executive, André de Witt, explains that “mobile devices, used when delivering the parcels, synchronise data between the locker and the devices during the locker loading process. The mobile devices are then used as transport mechanisms using BBD-designed synchronisation software and all data is uploaded when the devices have connectivity again”.
“Having global infrastructure as well as the ability to host health-related sensitive data locally while maintaining an integrated view of the information was a critical requirement for us. AWS has a unique value proposition offering a 100% uptime guarantee in its environment. So we can run like a bank, even though we are a relatively small business, and achieve the uptime we’re looking for with AWS on a small budget,” Hendriksz adds.
Another key requirement for the company was having both AWS and BBD understand its complex requirements. “We enjoy personal and technical support from our partners and they understand how our business operates,” Hendriksz states. “AWS also offers information dashboard tools that can create a single dashboard across disparate systems.”
Through AWS’ cloud, users receive SMS reminders of upcoming collection dates which assist with patient retention and the early identification and intervention of patients at risk of non-adherence. This leads to positive clinical outcomes and effective patient data management. It also enables Right ePharmacy to monitor and manage dispensing units remotely, plus the ability to auto-sync databases via mobile connections in remote areas.
Another benefit for Right ePharmacy is that both AWS and BBD operate in the public health sector. As Right ePharmacy expand their solutions in other countries, they are benefiting from the strategic leadership that their partners provide. Products utilised in the AWS solution BBD delivered include Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Linux); Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Windows); Amazon Redshift; Amazon QuickSight; Amazon Relational Database Service (SQL Server) and Amazon Virtual Private Cloud.
The product which Hendriksz says is going to be very beneficial is Amazon Comprehend Medical because it provides predictive analytics and insight into the data gathered. “This will provide us with additional information into future trends within our business,” he explains. “We are also planning on building a comprehensive end-to-end solution with AWS and BBD which will provide medication across the rest of Africa effectively and efficiently through AWS cloud-based technology.”
The dashboard and services available from AWS provide Right ePharmacy with not only keen insights and advanced analytics into users’ behaviour, but also secure easily accessible data and its management. “Considering the majority of our users are located in remote areas, the resultant solution ensures accessibility to the data necessary in providing this very necessary service to our users,” he concludes.