Improving orthopaedic care in The Gambia

A health assessment app developed by UK digital health technology company, Definition Health, is working to prevent 50% of patients in The Gambia having to travel long distances for treatment.

Initially developed for patients in the NHS and private hospital sector, the LifeBox pre-operative health assessment (ePOA) app developed by Definition Health 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.

The company claims it is the first national virtual fracture clinic in the world to run off a single digital platform and that the data is showing that it will prevent 50% of patients having to travel long distances for treatment.

The LifeBox ePOA app was created by medical consultants who identified a need to have patients `surgery-ready’ on the day of their operation, having undergone a higher level of pre-operative assessment to reduce risk. They also wanted to increase patient confidence and understanding, and for them to feel fully informed about the procedure they were about to have.

The Gambia 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.

Patients with injuries in The Gambia frequently use traditional medicine and healers. Fractures are often bound with sticks which result in malunion or non-union leading to significant permanent deformity. Many 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.

Working with the charity,  Gambia Medical UK Partnership, the Definition LifeBox will enable remote care, monitoring and planning for patients between EFSTH and 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.