Google in partnership with Emergency Medicine Kenya Foundation (EMKF), Ministry of Health and BP Systems Online, have mapped public hospitals with emergency medical care services across the country on Search and Maps enabling Kenyans navigate online with ease by searching "emergency centre near me" and find their closest hospital. Additionally, patients can now easily find opening times, contact numbers and the emergency services offered in the public hospitals online.
The service comes at a time when smartphone mobile penetration in Kenya crossed 50% of the population as at September 2018 with nearly 42 million Kenyans accessing the internet via mobile according to the Communications Authority. The entry of more affordable smartphones and cheaper mobile data plans were the primary drivers of these trends.
While sharing the mapping efforts, Claude Blatter, Google My Business (GMB) Africa lead underscored the importance of the partnership, saying that collaboration with Emergency Medicine Kenya Foundation (EMKF) has helped in ensuring that public health facilities are mappe and critical information accessible online.
"Last year between July and August, searches on Google for "Emergency Services" rose by 49% in Kenya, with 72% of the searches being from mobile devices. These insights were an eye-opener on the importance of facilitating access to emergency information and services using our Search and Maps platforms. This is in line with our mission of making locally relevant information easily available online," said Blatter.
Project 47 currently assesses the current state and locations of emergency departments in all 47 Counties in Kenya to identify gaps, and set priority actions for use by County Governments, planners and partners as a roadmap toward universal emergency care coverage in Kenya stated Dr. Benjamin Wachira, Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine at The Aga Khan University Hospital, Nairobi and consultant for EMKF.
Currently, public health facilities with emergency centres in 41 of the 47 Counties have been mapped out, signifying a 87% completion rate. "At the beginning of this collaboration, we envisioned mapping out 200+ public health facilities with emergency centres across the 47 counties. "We have mapped 41 out of 47 counties and we are confident that we will complete mapping such facilities in the remaining 6 counties by the end of the year," added Dr Wachira.
"A comparative look between March 2018 and March 2019 showed a 250% increase in total searches on Google Search and Maps for the 178 public health facilities , courtesy of the partnership. In the same period, there was a 32% increase in visibility on Google Search for the mapped facilities as well as a 38% increase in direction requests to public health facilities with emergency centres. Additionally, there has been a 177% increase in phone calls to the mapped public health facilities with emergency centres, in the same period," added Blatter.
Access to emergency medical services in Kenya has been a challenge with a significant number of patients in emergency situations losing their lives undeservedly due to wastage in time in locating the nearest facilities and establishing information on the services offered. By making such information easily available online, it is expected that there will be a decline in lives lost during the "Golden Hour": which requires a patient to receive emergency care within the first hour in so as to increase chances of survival.
EMKF is dedicated to the development of evidence-based universal emergency care in Kenya through education and research. It also aims at assessing the current state and locations of emergency departments in all 47 counties in Kenya to identify gaps, and set priority actions for use by County Governments, planners and partners as a roadmap toward universal emergency care coverage.
The partnership leveraged Google's expertise in mapping organisations and other public entities on the web by creating free websites, using Google My Business - a custom solution for Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs)".
Through the solution, SMBs can list online and increase their visibility, hence availing them online opportunities and. 113 public hospitals that have no road names will be getting an address on Google Maps and a free website, thanks to Google's Plus Codes Project (https://plus.codes/), enabling victims of emergencies to find and navigate to them with ease.