Samuel Mugisha, from Kabale in the south-west part of Uganda, aims to change healthcare in his home country. Thanks to a Tim and Judith Sear donation, he is now MD for Innovation Streams Ltd in Uganda.
When did you first become interested in healthcare?
While studying for my bachelor's degree in Computer Engineering at Mbarara University, Uganda, I spent some time working as a Research Assistant on a mobile phone application for Marie Stopes Uganda, an NGO that provides women with contraception and safe abortion services.
I've witnessed first-hand the detrimental effects that a lack of access to state-of-the-art technology has on the quality of care which patients receive. My colleagues and I started our own company working with Marie Stopes and Health Child Uganda to develop a mobile phone application that Village Health Team members could use to record key information on each newborn baby in the Bushenyi District.
Village team members would visit the young babies every five weeks, recording information about them and then report this to the district health centre. Then the district can quickly see if there are any problems.
What improvements had you already made to the healthcare system?
We started selling software packages to hospitals but the records were very messy so we built more manageable software and saw a positive impact. We did an analysis of the software after it was used and we realised there were some key benefits in cost savings because it allowed hospitals to monitor their pharmacy stock much better. We also saw that their revenues collected and expenditures had really improved.
Now, one hundred per cent of the children in that hospital are being triaged. There are many cases we have which show that babies would have died in the queue if they hadn’t been identified early but, because the software allows for effective triage, their lives can now be saved.
When did you decide to join Manchester?
I wanted an electronic health record for every patient in Uganda. We want to have this software used in every hospital. It’s a lot of data and a very big challenge but it’s what we hope to do and I knew I needed to gain more knowledge and skills in computer science. I decided I needed an advanced degree in an area like computer science to be able to meet the challenge.
Has it been worth it?
I’d say I’ve achieved my first goal, which was to gain the relevant skills. I’ve now also made some friends from all over the world. Now, I feel like I can approach anyone, talk to them and pitch my ideas, and I feel like I really understand my field a lot better.