emocha’s robust eHealth linkage to care system, miLINC, has been successfully implemented for multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) in three clinics in South Africa, and will now begin a phased national expansion.

Currently, more than 16,000 people are diagnosed with MDR-TB each year in South Africa. Of these, half do not return to the clinic for care after diagnosis.

To bridge the gap, emocha integrates several providers onto the emocha platform, keeping each informed as the patient progresses to initiation.

Key to miLINC is the interface with the National Health Lab Service (NHLS), which boasts a national network of 260 laboratories that service over 80% of South Africa’s population, to rapidly get test results to the patient and healthcare providers.

The emocha miLINC implementation is a team effort led by the MDR-TB Partnership, an international, multisector effort to stop MDR-TB. The Partnership is led by Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing in collaboration with the South African National Department of Health (NDoH), Jhpiego-SA, the NHLS, the CDC, the Global Fund, PEPFAR and emocha. This Partnership is leveraging the collective know-how of the team to build innovative approaches to address the TB and drug-resistant TB crisis in South Africa.

“To date, over 3000 patients have been enrolled into emocha miLINC, and more than 90% of MDR-positive patients have been initiated into care,” said emocha CEO, Sebastian Seiguer.

“Most impressive has been the speed with which patients are initiated to care. In some cases the time from diagnosis to initiation has gone from weeks to three days or less. This demonstrates how integrating and sharing patient data between multiple providers can dramatically improve an individual patient’s access to care,” continued Seiguer.

Multiple parties interact with emocha miLINC to get a patient from diagnosis to care. Primary Health Clinics, Linkage Officers and specialised MDR-TB Clinics each have a tablet-based application to register, track, and document enrolment, contact, appointments and initiation of patients. Notifications to patients and providers keep everyone on track. The patient is the focus of efforts, with critical data centralised to miLINC.

“As we phase into new clinics, we get valuable feedback from the linkage officers and nurses using the applications,” said project lead from the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, Dr Jason Farley.

“Buy-in from those on the ground has been essential to the success of the first phase and we are very pleased to see excitement in the new clinics. People understand how this will make their jobs easier, and the positive impact it will have on the country’s health,” concluded Dr Farley.

The miLINC expansion will begin across the KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape districts, with the launch of miLINC in 20 high-burden clinics over the next three months. The MDR-TB Partnership will continue the phased national rollout to satellite clinics in 2016.

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