The NimCure app is a digital patient care tool to promote adherence to treatment by TB patients in Nigeria developed by NIMR in partnership with CcHub.
The Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) in partnership with Co-Creation Hub (CcHUB) has launched a medical trial for NimCure App – a non-intrusive digital patient care tool that promotes adherence to treatment of Tuberculosis in Nigeria.
Tuberculosis is a major public health issue in Nigeria. Globally, Nigeria is ranked the fourth among the 22 high TB-burden countries. While TB is curable, there has been an increase in drug-resistant cases of TB which points to a lack of adherence to treatment by patients.
Treatment of TB is extensive and it takes a minimum period of 6 months. Apart from this, stigmatisation and Multi-Drug Resistant-TB remains a major public health threat in Nigeria and a leading cause of death in HIV infection.
However, NimCure will enable patients and caregivers to better manage the treatment process of TB using technology. “We are hoping that NimCure will promote the adherence to treatment for TB patient and address stigmatisation of patients,” says Desiree Craig, Head of Product at CcHUB.
With support from Samsung, CcHUB will provide mobile phones to patients and caregivers for the duration of the pilot. The devices will also come equipped with sim cards and data plans. The medical trial will commence this week with 30 patients and 6 caregivers.
How does NimCure work?
Using the NimCure App, patients are paired with caregivers who support and manage treatment remotely. The app innovates around the current method of treatment, Direct Observe Therapy (DOT) by the use of vDOT (video Direct Observe Therapy).
With NimCure, patients have access to the following features:
- Log dosage: Here patients are able to access their dosage for the day by recording their usage of the drug. The recorded videos are sent to the caregivers to monitor compliance.
- The push feature: Patients get important reminders and updates including reminders 2 hours, 30 minutes, 5 minutes and at the time of treatment. They also get reminders for physical appointments.
- Treatment progress: Patients can log in to the app to track their progress. They can see how well they have progressed compared to expected outcomes.
- Feedback: Patients can send comments and document how they feel at any given time.
- Contact: Patients can contact their caregivers directly for whatever reason.
Caregivers, through the NimCure Care app are able to monitor patient’s treatment including assessing and approving video submissions. They can also receive key notifications on the time of patient’s dosage, manage patient treatment progress and contact them directly. Each caregiver is assigned not more than 5 patients to manage.
The NimCure app also allow an admin to create and manage patient/caregiver information, treatment progress (view and monitor adherence), and schedule appointments. The admin can also view all the videos and comments submitted by the patient as well as the assessment record of caregivers.
A Partnership for Progress
Speaking at the launch which was held at the NIMR complex in Yaba, NIMR Director, Babatunde Lawal Salako says NIMR’s partnership with CcHUB is part of its commitment to conduct research that would translate to solving medical problems in Nigeria.
According to him, TB is usually regarded as the disease of poor. However, while NimCure may not be able to solve the problem of TB at the poverty level, he hopes that will it will “improve the treatment of TB by monitoring drug usage compliance and address stigmatisation of patients”.
The Director reiterates the need for quality medical research in Nigeria to solve health challenges. “Beyond writing papers, researchers should be more concerned about the impact their research. This is the direction we should be moving towards in Nigeria, especially in Nigerian universities. We should focus more on research that would translate to solutions of existing health problems rather than just publishing papers,” he says.
The CEO of Cc-HUB, Bosun Tijani believes mobile health technology can improve healthcare solution in Nigeria.
“The way digital technology has been able to analyse and process information is much stronger than we can imagine and this technology is becoming cheaper and ubiquitous. The implication is that as a society, we cannot just sit back and continue to consume what people are bringing,” says Tijani.
“The problem within spaces such as health and education is that over the years, we rely on foreign donors to come to our aid to find solutions to our problem. But our problems are unique to us and we are the ones who can identify the solutions to our problems. Until we make effort and choose to address our own problems, we will continue to wait for other people to solve our problems and that is not the way to live as a society. Nigeria is rated as one of the countries with the highest number of people living with Tuberculosis but several countries have been able to manage this disease. There is no reason why we can’t do the same.”
Like Lawal Salako, Tijani urged medical researchers to dedicate more time to research that could impact Nigeria’s healthcare industry.
“This is the only medical research institute we have in the country,” he told researchers present at the Nigeria Institute of Medical Research auditorium. “All our medical problems in this country will be based on your actions and inactions. I understand that our government does not provide resources, but Nigeria requires people who can perform magic literally if we are going to move forward.”