For many years, doctors and medical volunteers have spent countless hours in Haiti providing health care to those in need. Yet, even with the decades of effort by such committed people, this work has not moved the needle for healthcare enough.
Haiti is one of the world’s most extreme medical environments. The statistics are staggering: the maternal mortality rate is 1 in 16; the mortality rates for hypertension and stroke are the highest in North America. Throughout the past decade, as the nation has faced natural and political hardship, it has been clear that the familiar healthcare model of “hit and run relief” and “drive-by medical tours” does not work in Haiti. The estimated 4,500 non-governmental organizations and 10,000 charities working in Haiti since the 2010 earthquake highlight the fragmentation, redundancy and waste that are inherent to the current disjointed means of support. There is indeed a simpler, more inclusive and effective way to solve systemic, chronic health problems.
Colleagues In Care was founded to help answer this very call to service and change for the destitute poor in Haiti. As Chief Collaboration and Learning Officer for Colleagues In Care, I have witnessed, first hand, the power that comes from creating a single, vital global health network. Through engaging the best medical minds in the world, while focusing on purpose, participation and performance, we are helping transform the working medical blueprint in Haiti – “CollaborHaitian!” We are changing the rules of the game!
We needed new cloud-based, crowd-sourcing, social, mobile technologies, and enhanced learning tools to truly make a difference. We needed to develop adaptable “best possible practices” for quality protocols of care and for sustained collaboration and learning on a global scale.
In line with the “CollaborHaitian” initiative and using cloud computing technology from IBM, doctors, nurses, medical personnel and other partners, including IBM employees, are connecting with one another. They are invited to share best practices, tools and knowledge. The emerging insights are used within the community as a whole, and more importantly, by the vast number of volunteers and practitioners on the ground in Haiti.
Using the IBM SmartCloud, we are creating a grassroots movement to transform the future of healthcare for the underserved, anywhere in the world. This Haitian model will be easily replicated and tailored to assess and address the medical issues of any area affected by poverty, limitation and extreme need. The cloud computing technology from IBM (http://www.ibm.com/cloud-computing/social/us/en/) has offered a means to recruit, introduce and connect the world’s most renowned specialists with local health professionals. Colleagues In Care forges agreements with leading organizations to gain access to U.S. protocols, standard order sets, and clinical pathways, as well as medical educational content.
This collaboration and conversation not only bridges the gap between local and global expertise, but also inspires the co-creation of a “Best Possible Practices Model” (BPPM). With BPPM, we are able, with our panel of volunteer specialists, to offer specifically designed care that honors local circumstances and unites evidence and reality-based medicine. The result is pinpoint focus of resources and care on the highly critical illnesses, diseases and medical conditions, helping to reverse the dire health and healthcare of the underserved in Haiti.
The “power of community” speaks volumes for our organization. We are bringing the world of medical expertise to Haiti and through these virtual relationships, we address health care issues with an immediacy that is unprecedented, offering the on-site practitioners an arsenal of resources and support that has never before been available with such efficacy. Practices may be fine-tuned and implemented in the moment of need while insights and solutions may be presented as training tools for others. This model feeds itself and growth becomes automatic as knowledge is shared freely and new conversations are sparked.
The common passion for service within the diverse network of people, each offering distinct knowledge, experience, perspective and vision, is what becomes contagious within the system. We’re helping take medical volunteerism to another level: colleague to colleague. We’re helping to transform good intentions and volunteerism into tangible outcomes. We are co-creating social value!