Definition Health has announced that part of its total digital surgical solution, initially developed for patients in the NHS and private hospital sector, is now being deployed in The Gambia.
Its LifeBox pre-operative health assessment (ePOA) app is now being used to enable remote care of orthopaedic patients and provide Gambian clinical teams with remote assistance from medics in the UK to help them in diagnosis and treatment. It is the first national virtual fracture clinic in the world to run off a single digital platform and already data is showing that it will prevent 50% of patients having to travel long distances for treatment.
In March 2022, Dr Rosie Scott, a consultant radiologist and co-founder of Definition Health, volunteered in the Gambia, as part of the Gam Med Charity (Gambia Medical UK Partnership) to train local medics on the LifeBox ePOA.
The Gambia lies in West Africa and is the smallest country within mainland Africa, with a population of 2.1 million people. By western standards healthcare provision is extremely limited. Most secondary healthcare is provided in the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital (EFSTH) in the capital, Banjul.
In The Gambia, many patients with injuries use traditional medicine and healers. Fractures are often bound with sticks which result in malunion or non-union leading to significant permanent deformity. The resulting deformities would pose a significant orthopaedic challenge to reconstruct the limb in the western world, let alone in The Gambia. Adding to this challenge, many patients will travel over 100 miles to EFSTH with these injuries without an initial consultation or appointment – often leading to overwhelmed clinics, delayed treatment and in many cases, disappointment for patients.
In 2018, Dr Kebba Marenah was employed as the country’s first Gambian orthopaedic consultant. He completed his medical training in the UK, including his orthopaedic registrar training in Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust (now known as University Hospitals Sussex).
Dr Marenah led the orthopaedic arm of the West African College of Surgeons Outreach programme to the Gambia. He, along with Mr James Gibbs and Ms Lisa Leonard, both orthopaedic consultants at University Hospitals Sussex, performed surgery and taught in EFSTH for a week.
Out of that trip, the Gam Med charity was formed, and UK healthcare professionals continue to give long-term help and support to Dr Marenah in his ambition to raise the standards of hospital treatment in the Gambia.
Each year, Mr Gibbs and a group of NHS surgeons, anaesthetists, radiologists & physiotherapists spend a week working and operating on a wide range of conditions. These volunteers include Definition Health’s Dr Scott.
During the most recent Gam Med trip in March 2022, Dr Marenah has been working with Dr Scott to provide access and training to the Definition LifeBox system in Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital, as well as five other satellite hospitals throughout the Gambia.
The use of Definition LifeBox will enable remote care, monitoring and planning for patients between Dr Marenah at EFSTH and the satellite hospitals. Where needed, information can be uploaded for teams in the UK to view and offer remote assistance to the Gambian clinical teams in diagnosis and treatment plans for patients.
“It was my complete privilege to work with the medical team in The Gambia and to offer them support with our Definition Health digital platform which allows them now to record conditions and treatment as well as monitor patients from a distance. For some patients, this saves them a journey of over 100 miles,” said Dr Scott. ”I hope we can continue to support their everyday appointments with their patients, wherever they may live, and then with safe and efficient onward referral to the specialist where necessary. I feel happy that our technology is creating the greatest benefit where it is most needed.”
Main image: One of The Gambian doctors using Lifebox