GWest venturing into telemedicine with Digicel

Seeks partners for developing surgery and paediatric centres

BY DURRANT PATE
Observer Business Writer

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

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Western Jamaica medical outfit, GWest Corporation is teaming up with Digicel to venture into telemedicine in Jamaica.

GWest, which is buckling under severe financial problems having chalked up millions of dollars in losses since it went public two years ago, is utilising this new area of business to prop up its earnings.

Starting next month, Digicel will be rolling out a subscription-based telemedicine platform for beta testing.

Telemedicine is the remote delivery of health care services, such as health assessments or consultations, over a telecommunications infrastructure. It allows health care providers to evaluate, diagnose and treat patients using common technology — such as video conferencing and smartphones — without the need for an in-person visit.

GWest will sign up to be the first medical provider in western Jamaica on the Digicel platform. According to GWest, “this smartphone based platform will utilise our physicians and provide referrals to its services. It will also have applications for the hospitality industry.“

GWest says, “the implementation of the tele-medicine platform by Digicel will bring further visibility and access to our health care offerings”.

TELE-MEDICINE IN JAMAICA

Last year the government embarked on a telemedicine pilot project for persons in remote areas to access medical specialists at the University Hospital of the West Indies, in conjunction with a major telecommunications provider. It is being done under the Tele-medicine Proof of Concept (POC) project with Flow Jamaica, with an aim of reducing the time to deliver patient care by linking them, via teleconferencing/video conferencing, with specialist physicians and clinicians from health centres and certain hospitals, through mobile devices.

Minister of Health Dr Christopher Tufton, who launched the project officially on October 10 last year at the Kitson Town Health Centre in St Catherine, said the May Pen Hospital in Clarendon will be part of the trial period for the new system.

GWEST SEEKING PARTNERS

Gwest is searching for partnerships to undertake a joint venture to build an outdoor surgery centre and possibly a paediatric centre to further boost its revenue and take the company out of the red.

GWest chairman, Dr Konrad Kirlew disclosed that the company has already engaged “local surgeons and investors to joint venture in completing our surgery centre.

“This facility is a cornerstone of our medical services which, integrated with our existing medical units, will enable GWest to provide a comprehensive health care product that will positively impact our income stream.” He said in the upcoming financial year, the Montego Bay based listed company expects increased revenue contributions from the medical units already in operation, and an increase in its share of the local health care market.

“The ongoing issues with health care in the public sector represent an opportunity for growth,” Dr Kirlew reasoned. He noted that the cost-saving measures such as the rationalisation of staff, which is estimated to save $10 million annually is already bearing fruit. Additionally the sale of several investment units is in progress, which upon completion will provide cash flow to support the business operations.

According to Dr Kirlew, “thus far these actions have already resulted in successes, and we are confident that the company will continue as a going concern”.


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