More than 170 health facilities with emergency services mapped on Google

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The Coast Provincial General Hospital Signboard. Doctors have issued a strike notice commencing midnight on Monday 21st December./COURTESY

You will now not need to worry about finding public health facilities, with emergency medical care, around you.

Search Engine , Google, in partnership with Emergency Medicine Kenya Foundation (EMKF), the ministry of health and BP Systems online have mapped more than 170 public hospitals with emergency healthcare services across the country on Search and Maps.

The services will enable 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.

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 mapped 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,” 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 towards 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 an 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 Wachira.

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.

“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.

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.

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