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Trauma care in Kenya: Healthcare data analytics gives rise to a national EMS policy

My introduction to population data and analytics came during my health systems and trauma care fellowship at Johns Hopkins. Having finished my master’s degree in Public Health, I was eager to bring together my interest in improving health systems and background in surgery to improve trauma care in Kenya.

Unfortunately in Kenya, the burden of injury is poorly defined due to lack of data, and the concept of hospital quality improvement is still emerging. Setting up an injury surveillance system was the perfect opportunity to demonstrate the value of data by identifying and addressing gaps in care of the injured patient.

As we started to collect clinical data on trauma patients we recognized inconsistencies in providers’ level of data collection expertise, resulting in numerous issues with the collection, entry and extraction of data. To overcome these issues, we transitioned from an existing paper-based data entry system to an app-based data collection tool.  We enabled real-time monitoring of a trauma registry, improved data quality with continuous feedback, and expanded data collection to a more national scale for greater insight. The data identified immediate gaps in care, which served as the foundation for formal quality improvement initiatives.

Crisis inspires change

I was still in Kenya when, on September 21, 2013, terrorists attacked Nairobi’s Westgate Mall. In a siege that lasted several days, 67 people were killed and another 175 were injured.  As one of the medical incident commanders at the scene, I led first responders and EMTs in triage and stabilization of victims over the duration of the siege.

In the aftermath of the tragedy, I struggled to come to terms with the lack of protocol, disparities and gaps in emergency care I had witnessed first-hand. Determined to effect change, I decided to take the account of events to the Ministry of Health, supported by hospital and pre-hospital injury surveillance data.

This action resulted in an inaugural draft of a National EMS (Emergency Medical Services) Policy, operationalizing the constitutional right to emergency care for 40 million Kenyan citizens by mandating communications to toll-free access to care (911), recognizing trained EMS providers and using protocols in disaster and emergency response.

By following the data that flowed from this emergency situation, we found that we were able to make a real difference on a national level. And that’s just one example of effecting change with one type of data. With big data, the opportunities to improve health care are limitless.

What drew me to Allscripts Analytics

My background in the use of data to improve quality of care has pushed me to search for efficient ways to translate gaps in care to interventions that improve the lives of patients. The shift to electronic health records (EHRs) has made large-scale healthcare data available, and advancements in technology have created information from nearly every aspect of our lives.

Here at Allscripts Analytics, we have the capability to integrate data from health records and the environments in which we live to create a more holistic picture of health. Through the use of novel tools to navigate through disparate types of data, we have changed the way we gain healthcare insights. We have set out to understand the complex social and environmental factors that impact patients.  We can help identify at-risk populations and predict disease progression and response to treatment, and through the numerous Allscripts Solutions we’re able to bring meaningful insight back to providers the point-of-care to improve individual patient outcomes.

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