Short Report

Telemedicine in the Western Cape Department of Health during the first peak of the COVID-19 pandemic: Leveraging data to save lives by activating a telemedicine response

Neal J. David, Zameer Brey, Muzzammil Ismail
African Journal of Primary Health Care & Family Medicine | Vol 13, No 1 | a2954 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/phcfm.v13i1.2954 | © 2021 Neal Jonathan David | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 23 February 2021 | Published: 20 May 2021

About the author(s)

Neal J. David, Division of Family Medicine and Integrated Palliative Care, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa; and, Department of Health, Metro Health Services, Western Cape Government, Cape Town, South Africa
Zameer Brey, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), Seattle, United States of America; and, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), Cape Town, South Africa
Muzzammil Ismail, Department of Health, Health Impact Assessment (HIA), Western Cape Government Health (WCGH), Cape Town, South Africa; and, School of Public Health and Family Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa


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Abstract

The pandemic caused by coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has put health systems across the globe under strain. There has been much suffering and loss, but a silver lining is emerging – a growing list of deeply contextualised, resource-light and patient-centric innovations that are showing the promise of reshaping health care delivery as we know it. Some of these innovations were lying latent in the system, waiting for the ‘dots to be joined’. The Western Cape was the first province in South Africa to experience a COVID-19 wave from May 2020 to July 2020, with 60–70 deaths being reported daily. To bend the mortality curve during this crisis was not easy but was made possible using a rudimentary telehealth system. This project represents an exemplar of innovation, built out of necessity to save lives and may well become a staple component of the health service in a post-crisis era.

Keywords

data analysis; risk-stratification; telemedicine; coordination of care; diabetes; patient-centric

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