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DIGITAL HEALTH: New digital clinical support tool for childcare in low, middle-income countries

March 14, 2023
DIGITAL HEALTH: New digital clinical support tool for childcare in low, middle-income countries
A snip from the PLOS Digital Health journal with an inset of Dr. Lameck Luwanda from Ifakara Health Institute who contributed to the publication. GRAPHIC | IFAKARA/KMC.

A group of scientists from Africa, Europe and Asia have developed a new digital tool for the care of children in low- and middle-income settings. The tool is particularly designed for outpatients – those who receive medical treatment without being admitted to a hospital.

The new digital tool – technically known as “ePOCT+” – is the latest addition to the Clinical Decision Support Algorithms (CDSAs) for pediatric care that can now be used to address high childhood mortality and inappropriate antibiotic prescription by helping clinicians adhere to guidelines.

Ifakara Health Institute’s Dr. Lameck Luwanda contributed to the study published in the PLOS Digital Health journal on January 19, 2023. The lead and last author in this publication are Rainer Tan and Valérie D'Acremont respectively from the Digital and Global Health Unit at the Unisanté Centre for Primary Care and Public Health, University of Lausanne, Switzerland. Other contributors came from Tanzania, Switzerland, Kenya, Senegal, India, The Netherlands, and Rwanda.

According to the scientists, the new CDSA addresses previously identified challenges such as limited scope, usability and outdated clinical content. Its success, however, as the scientists point out is “contingent on the harmonization with national health management information systems and other digital systems.”

“Previously identified challenges of CDSAs include their limited scope, usability, and outdated clinical content. To address these challenges, we developed ePOCT+, a CDSA for the care of pediatric outpatients in low- and middle-income settings, and the medical algorithm suite (medAL-suite), a software for the creation and execution of CDSAs.”

The scientists have outlined the development process for the new CDSA, including its implementation required to meet the needs of clinicians, to improve uptake and quality of care. “We hope that the development framework used for developing ePOCT+ will help support the development of other CDSAs and that the open-source medAL-suite will enable others to easily and independently implement them.”

About CDSAs
Clinical decision support algorithms (CDSAs) are digitized tools that combine an individual’s health information with the health worker’s knowledge and clinical protocols to assist in making diagnosis and treatment decisions.

They analyze patient data, providing prompts and reminders that help healthcare workers deliver a range of services within a continuum of care. Learn more about this tool here: https://www.path.org/resources/clinical-decision-support-algorithm/

>> Full journal article: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36812607/