Telemedicine, thanks to a data platform, facilitates quick diagnosis of patients through exchange of digital images of patients. In addition to a reduction of patient hospital stay and clinic congestion, the platform saves costs for travel and accommodation for both government and patients. The use of telemedicine also improves treatment outcome and enhances skills development for the clinicians. The fact that it is digitally driven ensures data efficiency and reduces loss of data, as compared to when data is stored as hardcopies. Above all, telemedicine addresses the principle of equitable distribution of health services and amenities despite one’s geographical location.
In February 2009, Orange embarked on a pilot project with Botswana-UPenn Partnership, to provide a mobile health and telemedicine solution for Botswana. The pilot study was a success and as a result, the ministry has now taken over the project and is incorporating it into the country’s long-term health strategy. In June 2013, the Botswana Ministry of Health signed a memorandum of understanding with Orange Botswana to support the use of telemedicine in more than 19 villages in remote areas of the country. Under the three-year agreement, Orange will support the ministry with telecommunication equipment and internet connectivity.
The pilot project focused only on mobile oral telemedicine but now the project includes mobile tele-dermatology, tele-radiology, and mobile cervical cancer screening. 40% of the population in Botswana resides in rural regions, where there is low access to healthcare.