Since its soft launch in mid-2016, the Essential Medical Guidance (EMGuidance) platform has become the most comprehensive digital source of locally relevant medicines information & clinical guidelines in South Africa, with over 7,500 healthcare professionals registered on and using the platform.

EMGuidance is the brainchild of the founders of the Open Medicine Project South Africa (TOMPSA), Dr Yaseen Khan and Dr Mohammed Dalwai, the not-for-profit mHealth startup responsible for the Mobile Triage App and the nationally recognised HIV Clinical Guidelines App.

As part of their doctrine of providing free and easily accessible information to healthcare professionals at the point of care, the EMGuidance platform is available as a free app for both Android and iOS devices.

Through the app healthcare professionals can access comprehensive medicines information, local clinical guidelines and health system information without having to be connected to the internet. The app consists of four sections of content focusing on medicines information, clinical tools, care coordination information and clinical guidelines.

“The medicines section, which is really the core of our business, is now South Africa’s most comprehensive and up to date medicines resource. We’ve got all of the Essential Medicines List (EML) medicines in there, and we’re adding new non-EML medicines every day. The information includes trade names, adult and pediatric dosages, contraindications and even cost information,” said Chief Marketing Officer at EMGuidance, Howard Moodycliffe.

According to Moodycliffe, there are currently 18 clinical decision support tools in the EMGuidance app to help medical professionals. The care coordination section, which is currently in its early stages, is designed to facilitate the referral of patients through the system more efficiently, through the publishing of hospital call rosters, and other operational information sets for specific hospitals.

The guidelines section currently has over 1,200 locally relevant clinical guidelines from 25 different institutional partners, including the NDoH and the South African Antibiotic Stewardship Programme (SAASP), that are published on the app for free. This section of the app is geo-located so that only locally relevant information is displayed to the user. So for example, healthcare professionals in the Western Cape won’t be able to see guidelines for hospitals in other provinces unless they specifically choose to do so.

Healthcare institutions are able to submit their locally relevant guidelines via the EMGuidance website where the editorial board will verify the content and reformat it for mobile devices. Following approval and sign off, the geo-tagged, app-suitable guidelines will be accessible through the EMGuidance app for healthcare professionals in the same region.

“The content is always going to continue to grow on the platform, so we’re putting a lot of focus into making sure that the right content is being added at the right time,” said Moodycliffe.

“We’re in the process of developing a fairly comprehensive product roadmap based on feedback that we’ve had from users about further value that we can bring to them. But at the moment we’re focused on making sure that the content is right, the app works seamlessly and that it’s a great user experience for healthcare professionals,” continued Moodycliffe.

EMGuidance is able to offer their app for free to healthcare professionals because they are able to fund their business by giving pharmaceutical companies the opportunity to sponsor additional product specific content in the medicines section of the app and to engage with medical professionals on an opt-in basis.

“If they’ve got a medicine with a specific active ingredient that we’ve got in our medicines database they are able to pay to take the space below that active ingredient and add supplementary content that will support our users’ prescribing information requirements,” said Moodycliffe.

“We’ve got 10 multinationals on at the moment and we have quite a few more in the side-lines,” continued Moodycliffe.

The EMGuidance app is currently available in eight other African countries as a slimmed-down version. According to Moodycliffe, once they’ve mastered the South African content and value offering then they’ll start looking at expanding their platform into those eight regions as well as to other developing countries to make as large a positive impact as possible.

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