Hoping to improve primary healthcare services, the National Department of Health (NDoH) has launched a smartphone app for Primary Health Care Standard Treatment Guidelines and  Essential Medicines List, called the PHC Clinical Guide.

According to the NDoH’s Deputy Director General, Dr Anban Pillay, the department is leveraging the capabilities of mHealth technology to facilitate efficient, point-of-care access to the latest medicine information.

“The mobile application is an information and communication tool that can empower the primary healthcare worker, reduce the burden on secondary and tertiary services and strengthen the delivery of equitable and effective health care,” said Pillay.

“The availability of the clinical guidelines such as the Primary Health Care Standard Treatment Guidelines and Essential Medicines List in mobile application format is a useful tool that can help all healthcare professionals to better use antimicrobials in such a way as to decrease antimicrobial resistance and improve patient outcomes,” continued Pillay.

The app has features such as the cardiovascular risk assessment tool, which calculates a patient’s risk of having a cardiovascular event such as a stroke or a heart attack in the next 10 years. It also includes a paediatric drug dosage calculator, which accurately calculates the weight or age-based dosage for the most common medications on the Essential Medicines List, and the medicine stock-out tool, which allows healthcare workers to report medication shortage and stock-outs directly to the NDoH.

With the new app, healthcare workers will be able to access to the Standard Treatment Guidelines and Essential Medicines List digitally – currently the guidelines are paper-based in the form of books, which are distributed to various health facilities and academic institutions. Now they will not need to refer to papers when doing their job.

Pillay said the application can potentially be used to share important messages and updates to improve communication and provide information in real-time. It targets a wide audience and is easy to access.

“The app is for all categories of healthcare professionals, healthcare workers, managers at district, provincial and national level and community-based organisations involved in medicine use. The intention is to add to existing tools to promote rational medicine use, improve access to essential medicines and provide better patient care,” said Pillay.

The PHC Clinical Guide is available for download from Google Play Store and iTunes.

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