Since the soft launch took place in mid-May 2020, over 700 users have accessed the chatbot, with over 500 completed orders to receive chronic medication. Additionally, approximately 100 users have requested call-backs from healthcare providers in their respective facilities through the platform. These users all heard about the tool by word of mouth from existing users and made their requests from all over the Cape Town Metropole, from Mitchell’s Plain, Plumstead and Edgemead, to the CBD.
“The department wanted a system that would respond to high-risk chronic patient queries timeously and to give people peace of mind that their medication will be delivered to their homes. The system also allows our high-risk healthcare workers the opportunity to assist clients with their queries without placing their lives in danger as well,” said Mohamed Sonday, pharmacist at Mitchells Plain Hospital.
“Not only has the chatbot been of value in helping communities receive their medication, but it has also been an easy way for patients to manage their health without increased risk of contracting Covid-19 and simplified the medication distribution process for staff at our healthcare facilities,” said Sonday.
Lyanne Mapani, product manager at Aviro Health, which helped develop the app, says that there have been lessons on how the platform can better accommodate users who are requesting deliveries on behalf of patients.
“Together with the department, we are looking at ways to improve the chatbot so that it can be responsive and better serve users who are accessing it to make requests for their loved ones and fellow community members. The tool is clearly of value, but we want to make sure that we are reaching patients where they are. We are looking forward to launching additional features in the future such as, offering the service in multiple languages and supporting users in booking appointments,” says Mapani
Between April and May 2020, the department ensured that approximately 159,000 pre-packed chronic medication parcels were delivered to stable patients’ homes residing in the Western Cape Metropole since the Covid-19 lockdown was implemented. To ensure the safety of our vulnerable patients, the department has provided all stable and high-risk patients with a two-month supply of chronic medication. Once their medication has been depleted, the community health workers will deliver medication to their homes.
Our data shows people with co-morbidities such as diabetes, hypertension, TB, HIV/Aids, cancer, chronic lung disease and heart disease are at higher risk of becoming severely ill with Covid-19. These people are invited to join the chatbot to confirm their medication delivery by adding the number 087 240 6122 to their mobile phones and send a message saying “hi” to start the WhatsApp chatbot conversation.