Vast technological gaps still overwhelm hospitals and clinics across the globe. The World Health Organization has even reported the digital divide in healthcare as a severe concern in developed regions such as Europe. In many cases, paper charts are still used to document a patient’s exam results, diagnoses, and treatments. However, they can be extremely difficult to manage as small community clinics see hundreds of patients each week—creating mountains of paper records—mountains that become an everyday uphill battle for medical teams.
Misplacement and damage are rampant consequences. In addition, these files rapidly consume space in storage rooms; healthcare workers must sacrifice and dispose of old files to create room for new ones. Documents that manage to survive are often marred by illegible handwriting or confused by language barriers.
Data loss and misinterpretation breed significantly higher chances of misdiagnosis and ineffective, potentially life-threatening procedures. While working with the Children of War Foundation in Jordan, we assisted a surgeon in preparing for a leg amputation for a child from a refugee camp nearby. As the child waited in the operating room, the surgeon struggled to find their physical patient records.
Before the surgery could proceed, our electronic health record (EHR) system detected that they were the wrong patient and required a simpler procedure. Gaps in access to digital tools in healthcare settings are a clear threat to the health of billions living in remote, under-resourced, and crisis-responding communities.
Frontida Records began as a small, spirited team of college students that directly witnessed the implications of digital health disparities when they volunteered in Europe’s largest refugee camp, on an island in Greece. Our founders knew that the solution was found in an EHR system, and with the heart and drive to make a difference in the lives of marginalized patients, we developed a mobile platform specifically designed to document a patient’s healthcare electronically in rural, high-volume, multicultural settings.
After our first successful deployment, we have had the opportunity to serve patients in Panama, Afghanistan, Jordan, and Ukraine. Our mission has since been supported by international physicians, humanitarian leaders, activists, the Trojan family, and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
When we come together, we can make a measurable impact toward reducing global health inequities. On Saturday, March 25, we came together at our 2023 Global Expedition Fundraiser to discuss disparities caused by gaps in health data and technology throughout Panama, Ukraine, and The Gambia.
The evening began with a short preview of a film by Daniel Druhora, an Emmy award-winning director and professor at USC. His preview features the journey of the Mardini sisters, whose riveting story inspired the first deployment of the USC Global Challenges Innovation engineering program in Camp Moria—the origin of Frontida’s mission.
As Serhii Serdenyuk, M.D., remains on the frontlines of the Ukraine crisis, our team played a recorded video of himself instead. Serdenyuk, the Chief Medical Officer of Angelia Clinic, provided us with a unique glimpse at healthcare disparities that emerged during Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Amidst challenges and threats, he shared numerous successes his team and patients experienced thanks to the assistance of our EHR system.
Following Serdenyuk, Malick Leo Manga, the co-founder of the Inherited Roots Project, described the rich legacy of his father, Ebu Manga, and Alex Haley, the outstanding author of Roots: The Saga of an American Family. Just as his father helped Haley trace his ancestors, Manga states that he will expand their legacies by leading the Inherited Roots Project with Bill Haley, Jr., the grandson of Alex Haley, to support the sustainable development of Africa. The Inherited Roots Project has partnered with Frontida to digitize and protect patient records across The Gambia.
Benjamin Labrot, M.D., founder and CEO of Floating Doctors, spoke of his experience responding to marginalized patients in Haiti and Panama. He reflected on the risks that paper records pose for data loss and emphasized the significance of digitally-protected medical information in advocating for underrepresented communities in national healthcare policies.
We worked hard as a collective in taking the next steps to eliminate the digital divide and provide vital medical recordkeeping tools for vulnerable medical teams across the globe. By the end of the night, we raised over $30,000 to support the healthcare of patients in Ukraine, Panama, and The Gambia!
Frontida is deeply grateful for everyone that joined us on Saturday, as well as those who generously donated tickets for others. We especially want to give a big shoutout to USC, the Viterbi Startup Garage, and Malibu Family Wines for making our event possible. We couldn’t have done it without all of your support.
If you were unable to attend, you could still sign up to make a donation and help us make an impact in healthcare with our technology. Together, we can ensure no doctor is without vital, life-saving resources, nor any patient left behind.
Ariana Castro is a nonprofit copywriter and grant writer at Frontida Records. She is a second-year UCLA student majoring in English and minoring in Digital Humanities.