Armenia: EU TUMO centre working towards digitisation of healthcare

  • Date: 15/06/20
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Over the past three months, TUMO Labs, the educational programme at the heart of the EU TUMO Convergence Centre for Engineering and Applied Science in Armenia, has been conducting a joint project on the digitisation of healthcare with the Healthcare Innovation Centre (HIC), a Yerevan-based organisation developing innovative approaches to healthcare. 

Project participants got acquainted with the digitisation of healthcare, challenges in the field and international precedents for tackling them — knowledge they then applied to the healthcare system in Armenia. Specifically, the goal was to develop an application that connects patient information from smart medical devices to a single universe of data shared by healthcare providers throughout Armenia.

“In Armenia, technology is often taught out of context. Specialists solve technical problems without taking real world application into account. There is no multidisciplinary education. So, when a programmer, for example, talks to an economist or a healthcare worker, they’ll have a hard time understanding the subject matter,” said HIC board member Arthur Ghulyan. “That’s why we developed this project with TUMO Labs. We wanted to give students the opportunity to interface with professionals in a different field, understand their needs, and then channel their insights into a technical solution.”

For most project participants, the digitisation of healthcare was new terrain. But thanks to teamwork and the accessible approach of project facilitators, they were able to develop an application that collects patient information in accordance with international FHIR standards and with input from local doctors.

“Participants were divided into two groups, each with their own task. Our group digitised the medical chart — a document used by doctors to record patient information — so they no longer have to complete it by hand. We programmed with Java, Spring Boot, Maven, and for the front-end, JSX,” explained Lilit Hovhannisyan, an AUA sociology student and self-taught programmer. “This was my first time developing an application from start to finish. I began by taking small steps, coding part by part, until the application was complete.”

The second group created a web application that manages scheduling for doctors and patients with the C# programming language and Microsoft.NET Core. The doctor facing interface shows daily appointments, number of visitors and other data, while the patient facing interface allows users to see a doctor’s schedule and make appointments.

“The app will reduce lines and wait times at hospitals and clinics. Patients will make appointments remotely and show up on their scheduled day and time. This is just one part of a larger programme that still needs to be developed,” said project participant Artashes Ter-Abrahamyan, presenting the results.

Over the course of the project, Lilit discovered how interested she is in the digitisation of healthcare. So much so, that she’s decided to specialise in the field. Her enthusiasm wasn’t unnoticed by project facilitators. By the end of the project, she was offered a position continuing her work on their Hi Care initiative at HIC. “Over the past three months, not only have I gotten acquainted with a new industry, but I’ve gained theoretical knowledge and practical skills that I look forward to building on in the future,” said Lilit.

While the three months allotted for the TUMO Labs-HIC collaboration is up, students who participated in the project are just getting warmed up. They’re discussing how to build on their body of work and continue being involved in the digitisation of healthcare in Armenia.

TUMO Labs is the educational programme at the heart of the EU TUMO Convergence Centre for Engineering and Applied Science. The programme is funded by the European Union in Armenia.

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