Photos: How Medtronic LABS works to increase healthcare access in underserved communities
Hypertension and diabetes are a major health concern in Kenya, affecting millions. Medtronic LABS recently announced an expansion in Kenya with potential to impact over 300,000 people living with these chronic diseases.
LABS is an independent Medtronic-funded nonprofit organization that accelerates healthcare access for underserved communities around the world through technology.
Since launching in 2013, LABS has reached more than 1 million patients with hypertension and diabetes, and trained over 3,000 health workers in Kenya, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ghana, Sierra Leone, the United States, and India.
We recently spent some time with Medtronic LABS to bring you a look at the organization’s work in two rural communities in Kenya.
Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) kill more people than communicable diseases. In low and middle-income countries (LMIC), two-thirds of all deaths are due to NCDs, and yet, only 1% of health spending goes towards NCD care.
Medtronic LABS is working to change this narrative by bridging hyper-local services with cutting-edge technology. Here, a community health worker screens people for hypertension at a clinic in rural Nakuru County, Kenya.
Medtronic LABS holds regular patient support groups at partnering health clinics, where people living with hypertension and diabetes can get support – and education – about managing their health.
The wall of a clinic in rural Makueni County roughly translates to “quality care is your right.” Medtronic LABS is expanding its work to address any condition requiring long-term data-driven patient-centered management, including tuberculosis, HIV, mental health, and pregnancy. So far, the organization has trained over 3,000 community health workers.
Community health workers screen and manage patients for hypertension and diabetes and use LABS’ digital health platform, SPICE. They are equipped with a backpack with a tablet or cell phone, a weighing scale, blood pressure monitor, and blood glucometer.
Community health workers, nurses, clinicians and other health system staff connect patients to care using the SPICE digital health platform, which streamlines care for patients and clinicians who get an alert if there’s a high blood pressure reading in the field. The dashboard tracks health outcomes and population health indicators in real time — which can support policy and planning for health system leaders.
“SPICE is more than a tool that collects and reports data. It’s a platform designed to drive patient outcomes through community-based care delivery that’s proactive and personalized,” said Anne Stake, chief strategy and product officer for LABS.
In Makueni County, the Empower Health program has reached over 14,000 patients. For people who live in hard-to-reach areas like Makueni County, the impact can’t be overstated. To date, Medtronic LABS has screened over 250,000 patients and enrolled over 160,000 patients into their programs in regions across Kenya, Ghana, Tanzania, and Sierra Leone.
“Empower Health is a model for how we can expand these programs, not just in Kenya, but in sub-Saharan Africa and eventually other parts of the world,” said Ruchika Singhal, President of Medtronic LABS. “You start to multiply the impact with people living in low-and-middle-income countries, and we’re talking about hundreds of millions of people that could potentially be impacted.”
Learn more about Medtronic LABS.
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