Searching for patients in remote areas of developing nations, thousands of kilometres from where a Mercy Ships docks, has always been a priority, but also a logistical nightmare. So, when it became clear that the government in Cameroon was committed to making it as effective as possible, one of the team members said “we’ve got an app for that”!
For several years, the crew of the Africa Mercy has been working on an app to capture patient data (including photographs) in remote areas of the country that can then be used by surgeons back on the ship, to evaluate which patients are likely candidates for a free life changing surgery.
So, the ministry of health selected 30 local healthcare professionals and equipped them with a smartphone and the Mercy Ships app, and sent them out across the country even before the ship had arrived in Cameroon. In just 5 weeks they catalogued 11,000 potential patients.
Screening team leader Nate Claus, who worked on the development of the app using software from the company Zerion iFormbuilder, declared the approach to be a great success, with 90% of the patients selected in the first round of screening coming from outside of Douala.
Having data that is more accurate also means that the medical team can more precisely identify those patients, who would be helped by one of the free surgeries provided by Mercy Ships. This means that far fewer of those who are asked to travel to the ship for more in depth medical examinations have to be sent away because they cannot be helped.