May 19, 2020

Startup Afya Rekod launches AI data platform to curb COVID-19

healthcare
Technology
covid-19
Leah Netabai
4 min
Startup Afya Rekod launches AI data platform to curb COVID-19

Kenyan startup company Afya Rekod launches an artificially intelligent consumer data driven platform to support global efforts to combat COVID-19.

As we see the healthcare sector continue to grow digitally, this provides an unprecedented opportunity for the world to unite in its efforts when it is required to stay in isolation.

The current pandemic of COVID-19, has shown the world that centralised health management systems alone are not sufficient. What is needed is the addition of a decentralised system that allows people to update their own records, anytime and anywhere, in multiple formats.

Afya Rekod is currently in discussions with government entities and development partners to explore how its artificially intelligent (AI) data driven platform can be accelerated in order to combat the virus.

“Afya Rekod is a medical data storage platform that allows patients to store their health records, the medication they take as well as keep journals of their statuses and that of their kids and families. The platform is AI driven and uses various AI modules to help detect abnormalities, detect early outbreaks and monitor mobility and evolution of diseases via timely data analytics,” commented John Kamara, Founder and CEO of Afya Rekod.

The system was designed to help users store their own health data, access health information and connect to health service providers, with expectations to launch in July 2020. 

 “Afya Rekod comes at a crucial time when the world is experiencing one of the biggest pandemics of its generations and we need to monitor the movement and evolution of the virus very closely to determine the changing nature of symptoms among other things.” added Kamara.

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The startup plans to fast track its original launch amidst the pandemic, to support global efforts to curb the virus by providing a global portal for people to store real-time health data.

“Africa and most of the third world countries have limited doctors and access to health care services. Lack of patient data in real time makes the problem even more damaging to both patients and health service providers across the continent. Over 65% of Africans live in rural communities that are not connected and are off grid in terms of access to health care services. This is the problem we are trying to solve,” explains Kamara.

“We are fast tracking to launch the platform four months ahead of its time to enable the world to capture real time data that will hit map areas where the Corona infections are growing and monitor the growth in real time by collecting user generated information from millions of users across multiple geographic locations to allow for sufficient data analysis in support of the global efforts to curb the disease,” he concludes.

Elsewhere in the the continent 

The Institut Pasteur de Dakar and Senegal manufacturer, diaTROPiX, have been partnering with UK company Mologic The partnership marks the first time the UK has jointly manufactured a diagnostic kit in Africa to ensure tests are available to settings with limited laboratory access.

Mologic will market the diagnostic test at a cost affordable for low-income settings to ensure affected companies have access to the kits during the pandemic. 

Once the validation process - which began on March 25 - is complete the diagnostic device will allow users to test for exposure to the virus at home, in the community or at a clinic, with results ready within 10 minutes. 

“Until a vaccine is ready or a medicine is proven to be effective, we need to decentralise diagnostics to the community as quickly as possible. Properly assessing new tests during an epidemic is a critical and necessary step to ensuring access to the technology. Mologic’s prototypes will now be subject to international validation, with leading labs across the world,” added Dr Joe Fitchett, Medical Director, Mologic.

For more information on business topics in Africa, please take a look at the latest edition of Business Chief Africa.

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May 28, 2021

Automation of repetitive tasks leads to higher value work

Automation
UiPath
technology
repetitivetasks
Kate Birch
4 min
As a new report reveals most office workers are crushed by repetitive tasks, we talk the value of automation with UiPath’s MD of Northern Europe, Gavin Mee

Two-thirds of global office workers feel they are constantly doing the same tasks over and over again. That’s according to a new study (2021 Office Worker Survey) from automation software company UiPath.

Whether emailing, inputting data, or scheduling calls and meetings, the majority of those surveyed said they waste on average four and a half hours a week on time-consuming tasks that they think could be automated.

Not only is the undertaking of such repetitious and mundane tasks a waste of time for employees, and therefore for businesses, but it can also have a negative impact on employees’ motivation and productivity. And the research backs this up with more than half (58%) of those surveyed saying that undertaking such repetitive tasks doesn’t allow them to be as creative as they’d like to be.

When repetitive, unrewarding tasks are handled by people, it takes time and this can cause delays and reduce both employee and customer satisfaction,” Gavin Mee, Managing Director of UiPath Northern Europe tells Business Chief. “Repetitive tasks can also be tedious, which often leads to stress and an increased likelihood to leave a job.”

And these tasks exist at all levels within an organisation, right up to executive level, where there are “small daily tasks that can be automated, such as scheduling, logging onto systems and creating reports”, adds Mee.

Automation can free employees to focus on higher value work

By automating some or all of these repetitive tasks, employees at whatever level of the organisation are freed up to focus on meaningful work that is creative, collaborative and strategic, something that will not only help them feel more engaged, but also benefit the organisation.

“Automation can free people to do more engaging, rewarding and higher value work,” says Mee, highlighting that 68% of global workers believe automation will make them more productive and 60% of executives agree that automation will enable people to focus on more strategic work. “Importantly, 57% of executives also say that automation increases employee engagement, all important factors to achieving business objectives.”

These aren’t the only benefits, however. One of the problems with employees doing some of these repetitive tasks manually is that “people are fallible and make mistakes”, says Mee, whereas automation boosts accuracy and reduces manual errors by 57%, according to Forrester Research. Compliance is also improved, according to 92% of global organisations.

Repetitive tasks that can be automated

Any repetitive process can be automated, Mee explains, from paying invoices to dealing with enquiries, or authorising documents and managing insurance claims. “The process will vary from business to business, but office workers have identified and created software robots to assist with thousands of common tasks they want automated.”

These include inputting data or creating data sets, a time-consuming task that 59% of those surveyed globally said was the task they would most like to automate, with scheduling of calls and meetings (57%) and sending template or reminder emails (60%) also top of the automation list. Far fewer believed, however, that tasks such as liaising with their team or customers could be automated, illustrating the higher value of such tasks.

“By employing software robots to undertake such tasks, they can be handled much more quickly,” adds Mee pointing to OTP Bank Romania, which during the pandemic used an automation to process requests to postpone bank loan instalments. “This reduced the processing time of a single request from 10 minutes to 20 seconds, allowing the bank to cope with a 125% increase in the number of calls received by call centre agents.”

Mee says: “Automation accelerates digital transformation, according to 63% of global executives. It also drives major cost savings and improves business metrics, and because software robots can ramp-up quickly to meet spikes in demand, it improves resilience.

Five business areas that can be automated

Mee outlines five business areas where automation can really make a difference.

  1. Contact centres Whether a customer seeks help online, in-store or with an agent, the entire customer service journey can be automated – from initial interaction to reaching a satisfying outcome
  2. Finance and accounting Automation enables firms to manage tasks such as invoice processing, ensuring accuracy and preventing mistakes
  3. Human resources Automations can be used across the HR team to manage things like payroll, assessing job candidates, and on-boarding
  4. IT IT teams are often swamped in daily activity like on-boarding or off-boarding employees. Deploying virtual machines, provisioning, configuring, and maintaining infrastructure. These tasks are ideal for automation
  5. Legal There are many important administrative tasks undertaken by legal teams that can be automated. Often, legal professionals are creating their own robots to help them manage this work. In legal and compliance processes, that means attorneys and paralegals can respond more quickly to increasing demands from clients and internal stakeholders. Robots don’t store data, and the data they use is encrypted in transit and at rest, which improves risk profiling and compliance.

“To embark on an automation journey, organisations need to create a Centre of Excellence in which technical expertise is fostered,” explains Mee. “This group of experts can begin automating processes quickly to show return on investment and gain buy-in. This effort leads to greater interest from within the organisation, which often kick-starts a strategic focus on embedding automation.”

 

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