25 February 2017

Rwanda: Meet the 22-Year-Old Designing Software to Ease Healthcare Delivery

Photo: Elias Hakizimana/The New Times
Bovine Ishemaryayo speaking to the press during the launch of e-vuze platform.

A 22-year-old student has designed a software that could change the way patients in Rwanda access basic health services.

Jeanne Bovine Ishemaryayo, a fourth-year student of Software Engineering at the University of Rwanda's College of Science and Technology, worked with a team of five other students to create a platform dubbed, 'e-Vuze'.

The healthcare delivery platform, launched earlier this week at the college, combines both website and app working systematically, according to Ishemaryayo.

It allows patients to write requests to doctors with a part allowing doctors to respond to the requests and more subsystems like booking appointments, e-Payment, and patient's records.

The application, which is currently undergoing pilot testing at the University of Rwanda Polyclinic, lets users book appointments with doctors at any hospital in the country and pay for services electronically.

Users open Google and type www.e-vuze.com. A menu opens with configuration steps that lead to one acquiring a confirmation code after registration.

The code helps one to log in whether offline or online to access information from hospital.

The app, according to the developers, is different from the previous ones owned by others like Babyl and Easy Access that works in Central University Teaching Hospital of Kigali and other hospitals.

The software aims to tackle health-related problems and improve service delivery at district hospitals. It should also make hospitals more accessible to the wider population, Ishemaryayo said.

The specialty of e-Vuze platform is that it works online and offline based on recording full patients information from hospitals which handled them before, she said.

Ishemaryayo said they are in the process of requesting for a USSD code from Rwanda Utility Regulatory Agency (RURA) that will help patients to log in after registration.

"It is the only challenge we still have, to get USSD code that requires us to pay $1000 (about Rwf840,000) and we are looking for the money to start using the code. Since it is a platform, it is not in App store, we are still developing android application," she said.

To avoid compromising confidentiality of patients, only hospitals or Ministry of Health will be able to store patient's data and show to the patients when necessary.

The platform is in the meantime available operating with SMS from online to offline.

Ishemaryayo is chairperson of Computer Geek Tech Ltd, the company that owns the application. The company also coordinates youth who studied software engineering and helps other youth from various secondary schools to shape 'Hangumurimo' job creation programme and the Made-in-Rwanda initiative with technology.

Inspiration

Ishemaryayo got the idea for e-Vuze when she was a first-year student. The geek told Saturday Times that she was inspired by her experience spending days waiting for doctors' appointments at hospitals.

The app works across mobile phone platforms, Ishemaryayo added.

As of December 2015, 33.5 per cent of the Rwandan population had access to the Internet and 77.8 per cent had mobile phones, according to the 2015 ICT sector profile.

The students who created the platform had many challenges, including the problem of financing the project on the university's bursary allowance, Ishemaryayo said.

So far, software development has cost them Rwf2.7 million.

They hope to sign a contract with the Ministry of Health to connect all district hospitals on the system after it is approved following the pilot project.

In December, the app won the Private Sector Federation's diamond competition of young entrepreneurs.

According to Angelique Nyiraneza, a dentist at UR-Polyclinic, the software is still in testing phase.

"The system is working and we register patient's records from hard copies to soft files. I appreciate it because it helps us collect all the past records of patients from previous hospitals. It was a challenge for us to start on zero when looking for the past information of a patient whenever one lost hard copies of previous records," Nyiraneza said.

"We take patients' hard copies of their records, enter the information in soft to facilitate us, we had a similar system but this is particularly connecting many hospitals," she added.

Immaculee Uwineza, a dentistry intern at UR-Polyclinic, said the operation is efficient in recording patient information.

"We are able to register all the records, including consultations, drugs and everything made for the patients. Around five patients per day join the system here in our polyclinic," Uwineza told Saturday Times.

Sharing the dream

Ishemaryayo now hopes to spread her love of ICTs to other young learners across the country by creating ICT clubs at secondary schools. She said she has started five already.

Trained youth in ICT clubs follow the initiative to be ICT innovators.

Ishemaryayo said that the students are able to brainstorm together, in these clubs, write down ideas of projects in electronics, computer science and link them to help develop them into practical works.

"They like them and every student in the schools we visited was willing to join. Also no one failed in all the assignments we give them," she said.

Mary Kayitete, a Senior Six student at Groupe Scolaire Mater-Dei Nyanza offering Math, Physics and Computer Science combination, who is a member of the ICT club at the school, said she made a project about electronics with her colleagues through their camp called 'Tech-women' that takes place during the holidays.

"I want to share these skills with all boys and girls in my school," said Kayitete.

Ishemaryayo said she was excited that they were among first young ICT innovators to make the technical-based Made-in-Rwanda product as students.

"We are very delighted to show the country our potential and our first goal is to educate and help our younger brothers and sisters to help develop the country through ICT innovation," she said.

"It was not easy and it surprised me to stand in front of the public during the launch of the platform. The journey was long and I was so delighted to see many people come to attend the presentation of the final product. I felt happy that I was finally achieving my long cherished goal," she added.

Pacifique Uwineza, the chairperson of chamber for youth entrepreneurs at Private Sector Federation, said the app is a good example of something that fulfills the Made-in-Rwanda initiative.

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