Improving migrant healthcare using newly developed alert system

Improving migrant healthcare using newly developed alert system

ISGlobal researchers have collaborated with primary care professionals to develop a computerised alert system that will provide screening recommendations to improve overall migrant healthcare.

The issue with migrant healthcare is that health professionals lack familiarity with medical conditions that may affect the migrants before they reach Catalonian shores, meaning detection of certain diseases and conditions in these populations is challenging.

To improve access to more quality and targeted care in primary healthcare, ISGlobal researchers and professionals from the Clinic Foundation (FCRB) have developed a computerised tool to help health professionals make decisions about screening immigrants in Catalonia, Spain.

What does the new alert system do?

The new tool alerts the family doctor by way of a note in the patient’s computerised medical record when a series of variables—country of origin, age and sex—indicate that particular tests and/or procedures should be carried out. This new system aims to provide the most personalised care possible for each patient.

The alerts warn doctors of possible infectious diseases, including:

  • Hepatitis B and C;
  • Active tuberculosis;
  • HIV infection;
  • Chagas disease;
  • Schistosomiasis;
  • Strongyloidiasis; and
  • Risk of mental health problems and female genital mutilation.

These conditions were selected because they meet the three criteria:

  1. Cost-effective diagnostic methods are available;
  2. The diseases are chronic; and
  3. Given the potential severity of the conditions, treatment not only benefits the patients but also the public health system.

The alert system is currently being tested in four primary healthcare centres in Catalonia to find out whether it improves patient care by making doctors more aware of the need to take global health issues into account in the care of these patients.

Why has this system been put in place?

Ethel Sequeira, the project’s principal investigator, said: “We are concerned that some migrants are not receiving appropriate care and screening when they come to primary care facilities.

“The purpose of this tool is to provide health professionals with the best possible information in a timely manner, to maximise the impact of care for the migrants and for the host society.”

Once the pilot programme has ended, the authors will then compare the results obtained in the centres equipped with the computerised alert system with those collected in the four centres where the intervention was limited to training and the distribution of the recommendations document.


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