There is no denying that Kenya’s healthcare sector faces a myriad of challenges. One of them being the shortage of healthcare professionals to take care of its burgeoning population.
Moreover, the peak of COVID-19 pandemic made the situation worse due to an overstretched system, with many fearful of visiting hospitals for fear of contracting the virus.
It is against this backdrop that many healthcare institutions began rethinking how best to continue serving their patients and still maintain a positive experience. Evolutionary developments were necessary to stay abreast of the new reality. One such institution was Bliss Healthcare Limited, founded by Mr. Jayesh Saini.
Bliss Healthcare is the largest integrated network of outpatient medical centres in Kenya with 65 medical centers spread over 37 of the country’s 47 counties. The network serves over 80,000 patients each month through its workforce of over 2,000 employees.
Bliss Healthcare’s network of clinics includes all the services designed to increase accessibility to advanced primary, specialty, and ambulatory care services at an affordable cost. Bliss serves clients from all segments including Teachers Service Commission (TSC), National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF), Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), insurance companies, and direct walk-in clients.
Under Jayesh’s leadership, the Bliss Healthcare team realized that with Kenya’s high mobile internet penetration of 91%, this presented an opportunity to leverage so as to create a convenient online channel to serve patients while addressing their fears of contracting COVID-19.
This is what led to the introduction of the Telemedicine Program at Bliss Healthcare Limited. Telemedicine entails offering health services through digital technology such as mobile phone calls or video calls as opposed to the traditional way of patients walking in to a medical center for a physical consultation.
Through Bliss Healthcare’s telemedicine services, over 10,000 patients each month have been able to access services faster and from the comfort of their homes and/or offices, inevitably saving on valuable time and transportation costs.
In as much as telemedicine was triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic, it has proven popular beyond the pandemic period because teleconsultation has proven to provide a lot of convenience in terms of saving time and money. Moreover, chronic conditions require continued follow-up post COVID so there is need for continuity of telemedicine.
The telemedicine program at Bliss Healthcare predominantly serves Chronic Disease patients who are at the highest risk of contracting COVID-19. A huge percentage of Bliss Healthcare’s disease burden is increasingly made up of the Chronic conditions such as Hypertension, Diabetes, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Asthma, Epilepsy among others. The organization noticed early on that patient follow up was an issue and most patients fell off their drug regiment very quickly. To improve patient outcomes, there was need to find a way to track and monitor these patients.
This is what led to the inception of the Chronic Disease Management (CDM) Program, the first of its kind in Kenya. The Bliss network ensures accessibility to essential services to the Kenyans. This is supported by an efficient patient appointment and scheduling system. For instance, all patients are uniquely identified to a specific Centre nearer his/her place of stay or work using a system of colour coded cards. This model has ensured no patient leaves without his/her essential medication because we are efficiently able to match drug orders with supplies.
The number of patient defaulting care, has significantly reduced to less than 5%. The Chronic Disease Management (CDM) Program currently serves over 20,000 patients each month with major clients being Teacher Service Commission (TSC) and National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) among others.
Kenya’s Ministry of Health has acknowledged the important role that Information Technology plays in service delivery. It plans on utilizing IT to fast-track the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) Agenda. Mr. Saini believes the government and the private sector have to work together to compliment and supplement each other for the greater success of service delivery and health outcomes.