Rising burden of non-communicable diseases
Similar to other developing countries, diabetes and other non-communicable diseases (NCDs) have become a threat to Kenya a decade ago. Particularly, diabetes often results in life-long, irreversible complications that are usually very costly to treat. It was reported that the prevalence of diabetes in Kenya was at 3.3% in 2010, and is predicted to rise to 4.5% by 2025. In other words, nearly 2 million of diabetes patients rely on regular monitoring of HbA1c levels and other related parameters to ensure that their health conditions are under control.
Current challenges of primary care in Kenya
High barrier to access lab tests
There are thousands of small primary care facilities, which address the majority of primary care needs. Although the access to these facilities is actually not a problem, the issue iXensor and Ilara Health tried to tackle is the lack of medical diagnostics in these small centers. More than 70% of the patients seeking medical care from small clinics require testing, and they are usually referred to larger centralized clinical centers. The time and cost of visiting large medical centers are huge barriers to the majority. Even if the patients manage to get to large medical facilities, what awaits them are enormous lines and congestion of patients waiting for medical services.
Universal healthcare coverage hasn’t benefited all
“Kenya has adopted Universal Health Coverage as part of the priority agenda with an aspiration that by 2022, all people in Kenya will be able to use the essential services through a single unified benefit package.” Nonetheless, a few challenges remain: “Most counties seem to focus more on high cost interventions (Renal unit, ICU etc) than on primary health care services” – Policy Brief by Ministry of Health in Kenya. In the current state, preventive care and a number of diagnostic tests are not covered by public health insurance. The process to receive reimbursements is incredibly difficult.
The strategy and advantages to enhance primary care in communities
By partnering with iXensor, Ilara Health brings point of care diagnostics (PixoTest POCT System, HbA1c and lipid profile tests) to small facilities in Kenyan communities. Its sales team expands field operations aggressively to decentralize costly lab tests, helping patients avoid the hassle of completing blood tests at clinical labs. Critical for Ilara Health’s successful go-to-market was the ease of use of the hand-held size PixoTest POCT Analyzer.
Upcoming integrated care model
In the near future, Ilara Health will connect the data of PixoTest results to its communication platform, Mbali Health, which can send out the SMS and WhatsApp notifications. With such measures in place, it allows healthcare service providers to inform and remind patients for ongoing care in a very convenient and integrated manner.
Results in 2020
Within 1 year, Ilara Health has implemented PixoTest at 60 primary care settings. This achievement has not only been widely appreciated by doctors but also patients. More importantly, Ilara Health has furthered its unstoppable ambition in offering better patient experience at the primary care settings in 2021. Ilara Health will bring the integrated patient messaging and management system to life whilst introducing the PixoTest POCT System to 30 additional small healthcare facilities.
Voice of partner
“At Ilara Health, we strive to bridge the diagnostics divide in Africa by connecting healthcare facilities to devices that are disrupting the diagnostic landscape, so we are thrilled to partner with iXensor.
There is an acute need in Kenya and across the continent for early detection of metabolic diseases, and with PixoTest, our partner facilities can do this. The PixoTest is affordable, portable, and its data integration feature allows us to use it for remote patient management, ensuring that patients can receive the highest quality of care when managing their conditions.”
Mr. Emilian Popa, CEO of Ilara Health
Voice of physicians in Nairobi
“The earlier the diagnosis, the better the prognosis.”
Dr. Mwihurih Githinji, Ngara Comprehensive Health Services
What is the current demand for reliable, rapid diagnostics for identifying new diabetes and hyperlipidemia patients?
Because of lifestyle changes, NCDs are becoming bigger healthcare burdens with diabetes and hypertension taking the lead. If I am able to identify diabetes or pre-diabetics earlier, then the management will be much faster. That applies to other diseases as well and benefits both the patients and clinicians.
As for the hyperlipidemia and coronary artery disease, myocardial infarctions (MIs) have become a significant problem. There is no screening measure for detecting the hyperlipidemia states. Therefore, if we could do that fast or early enough, then the rate of mortality and morbidity due to MIs would reduce.
Before using the PixoTest, were there any difficulties for you to diagnose or monitor the health of your patients?
Definitely, because blood testing was an outsourced test for us. We had no control. The turnaround time was quite a lengthy process simply because it would take us at least 24 hours to get the results to the patient.
Why did you decide to utilize the PixoTest POCT Analyzer as a part of your clinical practices?
This has both clinical and commercial aspects to it. The clinical aspect is that I get an early diagnosis and I have not had a problem with the accuracy. Operationally and financially, it’s cheaper than getting a fully automated chemistry machine.
What has been improved from your perspective?
For the diabetics, I have been able to screen for diabetes more efficiently, and in that case I have diagnosed patients with HbA1c. In addition, I have been able to follow up on their HbA1c control more efficiently. Good clinical sense makes good business sense.
Download the full story in PDF format
1.Kenya National Diabetes Strategy 2010-2015
2.Policy Brief, Lifestyle Diseases – An Increasing Cause of Health Loss, Ministry of Health in Kenya
3.Combating Noncommunicable Diseases in Kenya, An Investment Case