Rahbar, mHealth Prescription Application, Improving Health Outcomes for Stroke Patients in Pakistan

Non-communicable diseases and stroke have become a major concern in Pakistan, as the country undergoes a demographic transition. Studies show evidence of a high burden of stroke in the population, with about one in every four adults falling victim to hypertension and/or diabetes, heart disease or a stroke equivalent. Furthermore, medical complications are common after acute stroke, contributing to adverse health outcomes. Mortality rates of 12% are reported in the first year post-discharge.

In a country lacking post-stroke rehabilitation facilities, AKDN dHRC and the Aga Khan University (AKU) Stroke Program collaborated to develop Rahbar, an electronic prescription app with educational videos for stroke patients and their caregivers. The application was developed as a result of a successful pilot study, Movies4Stroke, which was carried out through evidence-based research and clinical testing at AKU, led by Dr Ayeesha Kamal, Professor, Department of Medicine.

The Rahbar app consists of forty-two educational videos for stroke survivors and their caregivers. The app aims to enable caregivers to provide improved care to stroke patients at home in areas where there is a dearth of doctors and nurses and to prepare them for emergencies. The educational videos contain information that cover topics like what a stroke is; rehabilitation skills; safe swallowing and language; understanding the purpose of medications and how they function; and prevention of further stroke through adoption of lifestyle changes.

The application offers user-friendly design with robust functionality that equips stroke patients and their caregivers with a powerful tool to address day-to-day complications. Rahbar is the first mobile solution prescribed to patients at the Aga Khan University Hospital in Karachi. It is currently included as part of the Mind and Brain service line and aims to reduce the number of re-admissions and avoidable deaths due to aspiration pneumonia.