Better Data for Public Health: How Nexleaf and PagerDuty are Monitoring Healthcare
Having a reliable power source is something many of us take for granted. It is particularly important for healthcare facilities to have a consistent, reliable power source to ensure that vulnerable patients – specifically those who rely on electricity to sustain their lives – are not disrupted.
In rural Sub-Saharan Africa, however, it’s estimated that only about 28% of hospitals have reliable electricity. With little to no data to understand how and when power outages occur, it has become increasingly challenging for the hospital staff to manage.
Nexleaf Analytics is working to solve this challenge. Nexleaf creates data and technology solutions for better health outcomes in low and middle income countries. They work alongside health advocates, governments, and local communities to provide actionable data for decision-making at scale. Their mission is to ensure countries have the data they need to build lasting solutions that improve people’s health.
The Case for Data and Analytics
Having an unreliable power source causes a myriad of problems for rural hospitals. For example, many rely on diesel generators when they have unreliable power. Although this is the only way to ensure backup power, it’s also a costly and inefficient workaround for unstable power systems. Most of these facilities lack baseline data to track the trends in outages, which means the hospital staff play a guessing game of when there will be an outage and are constantly on high-alert. It also causes problems forecasting budgets for diesel fuel expenses.
Without data showing exactly how long and costly these outages are, it’s difficult for these hospitals to justify additional funds. “Our main aim was to document demand for power data and to also understand what problems and challenges exist that could be assisted by having visibility in data,” said Amos Momanyi, Medical Equipment Project Manager for Nexleaf Analytics.
A pilot program between PagerDuty, Nexleaf and the Center for Public Health and Development was implemented to understand how and when outages occur, and to establish protocols for maintaining healthcare facilities when outages happen. The program was implemented in 15 rural hospitals in Kenya with a few goals in mind:
- Document the demand for power data
- Understand the problems and challenges that could be assisted by having visibility in data
- Understand how alerts and data could help resolve power outages
The Power of PagerDuty
Nexleaf deployed PagerDuty and connected IoT sensors to provide notifications to hospital staff via SMS and an online application. This allowed the staff to easily understand the root cause of power outages. One hospital, for example, found that they were sharing electricity with a neighboring facility, triggering power outages at 6 a.m. They shifted energy usage to different times of day to maintain a predictable energy supply– a simple solution, but one that would otherwise be invisible to the team without data from PagerDuty.
The data from the PagerDuty platform also helped medical facilities explain their need for increased diesel and justify why they were over budget. Even better, the data helped improve the accuracy of their financial projections for the months ahead.
Most importantly, real-time notifications from PagerDuty meant that biomedical engineers were not required to be at the facility to know when an outage was happening. After receiving an alert, hospital employees could act quickly to reconnect power to the facility. This eliminated the need to manually monitor their backup power, and prevented blackouts with potentially major consequences on patient outcomes. “With PagerDuty, teams could ensure that no fatalities happened because of equipment failure due to loss of power,” said Momanyi.
The Future Looks Bright
With the success of the pilot, hospitals and their staff found a number of solutions. Hospital employees worked to determine use cases for power data that could help them make effective and efficient decisions around management of power at their facilities. Facilities are keeping PagerDuty in place and Nexleaf is expanding to new facilities.
For more on Nexleaf Analytic’s journey, watch the full Summit ’22 session here.