Gov’t laying foundation for ICT use in remote patient diagnosis, treatment

Dr Anthony

The PPP/C Government, through the health ministry is laying the foundation for the use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) for the conduct of patient remote diagnosis and treatment in Guyana.

Health Minister, Dr Frank Anthony, while addressing a graduating batch of community health workers at the weekend, emphasised the need for developing Guyana’s medical technology.

Health Minister, Dr Frank Anthony

The minister underscored that the health sector must be improved in order to successfully support the expanding economy.

“But while we’re training you as community health workers, one of the things that you would see change over the next couple of years would be what you would be capable of doing…You would be capable of doing much more than that. The ministry is going to be utilising a lot of telemedicine.”

The new initiative, known as telemedicine, permits video or phone consultations between a patient and the healthcare provider.

“Wherever you would be in one of these health centres or health posts, our aim is to provide you with a piece of equipment… That computer would have, on it, a piece of software that is called software to register patients or as we call it an electronic record of the patient,” the minister explained.

Minister Anthony noted that in some remote areas, the initiative would involve the use of a satellite link since the computer will have the capabilities to connect to the satellite for the images to be downloaded.

“With this computer, it will also have a set of equipment that is internet enabled…They will have cameras, the doctors might say, put the cameras to the patient’s eyes so that we could take a look at the eye…and from that, they will be able to make a diagnosis sitting miles away from where you are but they’ll be able to guide you,”Dr Anthony explained.

He spoke about the probes which can be placed on the skin to conduct an ultrasound.

Dr Anthony noted that telemedicine is being piloted in four health centres in Region Nine. 

“And once we see it work very well, we know that it will work because we’ve seen it work in other countries. We will, then, start using it in different regions.”

At the primary health care level, the minister stated that the intention is to offer a wider range of services, therefore using this technology would improve the quality of care offered to residents.

In terms of opportunities, Dr Anthony said the ministry is working to get more persons to apply for the registered nurses’ programme.

Dr Anthony noted, “right now, we can only train about 250 persons a year. This is a three-year programme. But if we want to get more, one of the things we want to do is to use the internet where we can teach you the theory.”

The participants will, then, go to one of the assimilation centres for the practical sessions of the nursing programme.

So, by doing that, we want to start recruiting as soon as we can get the course up and running…as soon as we can get that uploaded to the internet. We want to start with about 500 to 1,000 persons in this registered nursing programme,” Minister Anthony highlighted.

He disclosed that the intention is for 1,000 persons to be a part of the nursing programme, which means that three years from now, there should be 1,000 registered nurses spread across health institutions in the various regions.

Minister Anthony noted that this is important to facilitate the expansion of the health sector.