Health Connect Jamaica looking to telemedicine to improve service delivery
Barrow... there are plans to imrpove the services for HIV clients with decentralised drug delivery and telemedicine.

Health Connect Jamaica (HCJ) is moving to improve its services with decentralised drug delivery and telemedicine, which are expected to eliminate the fear of discrimination and enhance privacy among HIV clients.

Speaking with the Jamaica Observer in an exclusive interview, director at HCJ Geoffrey Barrow also noted that the organisation will be pushing to highlight its services, as AIDS Awareness Month, which is recognised in December, approaches.

"HCJ will definitely be making sure that its presence is known. We are going to leverage the fact that HIV awareness is coming into the forefront of people's minds in order to ensure that people are aware of the services that we provide," said Barrow last Thursday.

"We hope that people who are actually in need of the service will become aware of us because once folks know about us, they come on board and are able to achieve that optimum level of health care they require," he said.

Pointing to the telemedicine option, which he said will be launched in a couple weeks, Barrow noted that it is well needed as patients will be able to have constant interactions with their health practitioners.

"This will reduce the burden of travelling to the health care, you can have a five or 10 minutes touch base over the phone, in a system that is very protective in terms of your health information. This has been one of the challenges in virtual health-care delivery to ensure that health-care data is actually protected and people feel and understand that people are not able to listen to their conversations and the data we collect is absolutely protected," he said.

Meanwhile, for the decentralised drug delivery, he noted that the HCJ partnered with two clinicians and eight patients in September. The service will be officially rolled out this fiscal period.

"Instead of the client going to the doctor, getting prescriptions, taking prescriptions, and going to the pharmacy, we have created this virtual where the information could be transferred without the client so that when the patient goes to the doctor's office, they can collect their medication at the same time," he said.

"We will be doing all the background work, collecting the medication, dropping it off at the doctor's office so that when the patient goes get their doctor visit, they can pick up their medication at the same time, thereby removing those travel and transportation costs," he said.

According to Barrow, lack of trust is a common issue identified among HIV patients, which HCJ is trying to address.

"For folks who might not have had great experiences prior to HCJ, we are trying to get them to trust the health system again. We are trying to change the services specifically for those clients to ensure that they are cared for, integrated in their own care, and that they know there are several different mechanisms that they can engage with in the health care system. We want to make sure they change their perspectives based on previous experiences," he said.

The HCJ is funded by the United States President Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief through the United States Agency for International Development.

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