The Center for Health Policy and Studies (PAS Center), together with the National TB Program and the AFI NGO launched, for the first time in Moldova, a special mobile application for monitoring remote treatment of tuberculosis – I LIKE VOT.
I LIKE VOT is a new digital method for monitoring the home-based treatment of people with tuberculosis and is an innovation in the medical field in the Republic of Moldova. It was created last year, but right now, when the pandemic forces us to keep social distance, it has become more necessary than ever. Patients with TB are part of the risk group for Sars-Cov-2 infection, so remote treatment will help them to administer their treatment safely at home.
“Video Observed treatment (VOT) is recommended by the World Health Organization as an effective method of treating tuberculosis geared towards the needs of people with TB." - said Cristina Celan, the Project Manager at the Center for Health Policy and Studies (PAS Center). “The platform consists of two components: a free mobile application used by patients to video-record the taking in of medication and a website that the doctors use. The patients' videos are saved on the website and the doctors monitor the regularity of patients' treatment.”
The option of remote treatment – the trend and advantage of the application
By using I Like VOT, the patient no longer has to go to the TB office for medication every day.
The patient is given the necessary amount of medicines for a period of 3 months, as well as detailed instructions for taking them. Another advantage of the application is that neither the patient nor the doctor should connect to the applications at the same time.
“The video is recorded and sent when the patient has access to the Internet. It’s also convenient for the doctors because they do not need to connect at a certain time, since they can view the patient's message at any time convenient for them and then confirm the treatment.” said Cristina Celan, PAS Center.
The first patients have already begun the remote treatment.
The first institution to conduct pilot testing of the application is the Territorial Medical Association (TMA) Buiucani from Chisinau. Currently, nine patients have already switched to this form of treatment.
The project will be implemented by other TMAs in the capital, and then by medical institutions in Balti and 8 other districts. Thus, the remote treatment through the #ILIKEVOT application will be carried out in 10 cities and regions: the cities of Chisinau and Balti, as well as the districts of Anenii Noi, Calarasi, Criuleni, Floresti, Ialoveni, Orhei, Straseni and Ungheni.
As part of the PAS Center pilot project, patients who do not have mobile phones will receive them along with a subscription and Internet connection, provided that they strictly follow the treatment and successfully complete it. Doctors and nurses of the TB service are trained to work with the platform, and will be provided with equipment - the TB care office will receive 1-2 laptops depending on the number of patients they are observing.
“Training of doctors during COVID-19 is already carried out using online applications. At the same time, patients are being recruited into the remote treatment program through the #ILIKEVOT app.” notes Cristina Celan.
Additional services within #ILIKEVOT
The #ILIKEVOT app contains a wide range of features and resources for patients. So, in the application, patients will be able to familiarize themselves with general information about tuberculosis, read encouraging messages from people who have recovered from tuberculosis, people who have gone through a similar experience of recovery. There is also information about the nearest tuberculosis care office, where a person can go if necessary.
It should be mentioned that the application is also valuable in terms of providing the patients with the possibility to submit daily information about the state of their health and side effects to their doctor and evaluate the medical services that are provided to them. They can also share experiences regarding unpleasant moments, stigma and discrimination by family members and society.
The PAS Center implements this pilot project in coordination with the National Tuberculosis Program.
In the next 12 months, #ILIKEVOT remote treatment program will include 650 people in Moldova
Cristina Celan noted that the PAS Center aims to enroll at least 650 patients (516 patients with sensitive TB and 134 with drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR). Patients with sensitive TB will be monitored for at least 3 months, and those with MDR for at least for 12 months.
We remind you that the diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis in the Republic of Moldova is free of charge, and timely access to medical care and strict adherence to the prescribed treatment are the main components of successful outcome.
The I Like VOT application supports both patients with TB and reforms in this area in Moldova. It was developed by the Center for Health Policy and Studies (PAS Center) in partnership with the National Tuberculosis Control Program and the NGO "Act for Involvement” (AFI). Investments in the development and implementation of a pilot project in Moldova amount to about 30 thousand dollars.
I Like VOT was created as part of the “People-centered Care Model in Moldova: Implementing Digital Methods for Better Adherence to Treatment” project, supported by the TB REACH Initiative of the Stop TB Partnership, funded by the Government of Canada and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation , implemented by the Center for Health Policy and Studies (PAS Center), in collaboration with the National Tuberculosis Control Program and AFI NGO.