July 23, 2013
This African Smart Card Helps Catch Disease Outbreaks
The 2010 introduction of the SmartCare system — developed by Zambia's Ministry of Health and the U.S. Center for Disease Control — helps to catch disease outbreaks before they spread too widely. Mashable reports.
Instead of holding patients accountable for paper "exercise books" documenting their medical histories, the details of individuals' diagnoses and treatments can now be stored on a smart card they hold in their wallets, as well as locally at their health clinic and in the larger SmartCare network.
"The SmartCare card came in because we had a challenge," healthcare manager Ignicious Bulongo says. "Patients would go home and didn't care what happened to their exercise books."
The advantages of the digital system expand beyond its portability: Computerizing the communities' medical records helps Bulongo and other clinicians like him to catch disease outbreaks and medical trends earlier than ever before.
"If there's any outbreak, we'll catch it. The system will show if we see six cases of the measles within one day in people coming from the same area," Bulongo says, noting a recent bilharzia outbreak the clinic found with the help of the electronic system.
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