Gesundheit02 August, 2022

Providing access to evidence-based clinical decision support by land – and by sea

Through Mercy Ships, volunteer clinicians armed with donated clinical decision support tools from Wolters Kluwer can impact global communities and advance health equity.

Access to quality, evidence-based care and robust health infrastructure remains a challenge in many developing countries. The impacts can have far-reaching implications both from a health equity and quality of life perspective, but also in delayed economic development.

To address health equity challenges, it's key to understand the wider scope of the state of care as well as targeted opportunities for impact.

Quality of care challenges in developing countries

A 2018 Lancet article studied the current state of quality of care in low- and middle-income countries as part of a larger call for sustainable and equitable systemic health system reform. Key findings included:

  • Providers perform less than half of the recommended evidence-based care actions - less than half of women were examined within one hour after giving birth in a facility
  • Health systems with poor quality of care result in over 8 million deaths per year, resulting in economic welfare losses of $6 trillion in 2015 alone
  • Inadequate platform integrations can undermine health systems’ ability to care for complex and emerging health conditions
  • High-quality health care is unevenly distributed based on class and income, and lack of trust in health systems results in underutilization

By treating these systemic care challenges, the study identifies opportunities to reduce costs and increase economic benefits in addition to the humanitarian need to provide quality care.

Additionally, a 2019 study found an estimated 1.7 billion children and adolescents worldwide didn’t have access to surgical care and 453 million children under five years old didn’t have access to basic life-saving surgical care. Patients with these treatable causes, such as injuries, deformities, and surgical conditions, can lead to high mortality rates and lower quality of life.

Targeting health equity from the sea

As many seek to address the largest systemic issues, a number of organizations are looking to provide care in targeted ways, such as Mercy Ships, a non-profit with the largest civilian hospital ships in the world focused on treating surgical care.

Mercy Ship’s mission is to power “floating hospitals”, providing free access to high-quality surgical and medical procedures in a sterile operating environment to patients of low- and middle-income areas near coastlines. Surgeries provided include cleft-lip and palate, cataracts, windswept and bow-legged deformities, twisted knees, tumors, and many other procedures.

Additionally, teams provide tools, clinician training, and resources to host countries and local governments to help build sustainable health infrastructures and leave behind a more supported and empowered community.

By visiting countries from the ocean, they can provide access to the 40% of the world’s population who live within 100 km (60 mi) of a coastline. In the more remote regions of the world, infrastructure and access to electricity can be limited or nonexistent, so providing access to evidence-based, clinical information to volunteer clinicians in remote areas can be a challenge.

Access to leading evidence-based clinical decision support anytime, anywhere

To address the need to provide clinicians with access to evidence-based clinical information in more remote countries and in the open sea, Mercy Ships partners with Wolters Kluwer to supply free access to UpToDate, Lexicomp, and Lippincott Procedures – first in 2018 on the Africa Mercy ship and expanding in 2022 to the new Global Mercy ship.

With access to a suite of mobile iPad apps on board, clinicians can reliably find the most recent medical research and clinical evidence to support surgical care.

  • Lexicomp provides clinicians with content on drug dosing, practice guidelines, pharmacogenomics, drug shortages, and more.
  • UpToDate provides clinicians with leading evidence-based clinical information regularly updated by medical experts and specialists
  • Lippincott Procedures focuses on supporting nursing and allied staff with skills and procedures for safe clinical practices, regularly updated by expert nurses and subject matter experts

The impact is significant. The Africa Mercy ship has 80 patient beds in five operating theaters, recovery, intensive care, and low dependency wards. The newly christened Global Mercy ship can accommodate 950 crewmembers and volunteers, and has space for 200 patients, six operating rooms, a laboratory, and clinics for dental, eye, and outpatient services. Mercy Ships anticipates over the next 50 years, Global Mercy can provide over 150,000 patients with life-giving surgery.

While there is much to do to advance health equity, through Mercy Ships, volunteer clinicians armed with donated leading clinical decision support tools can impact individuals and communities around the world.

Learn how Wolters Kluwer is supporting healthcare professionals globally to advance the best care everywhere.

Learn About Our Commitment To Health Equity
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