The healthcare industry is witnessing unprecedented transformation, with an estimated $25 billion in healthcare physical assets needed in Africa by 2020. Technology is changing the script when it comes to delivering healthcare solutions. What can be certain is that future trends will be driven by access to Big Data, to shape new models of care in driving innovative, affordable and accessible services, across this diverse continent. There is a growing recognition of the importance of digital innovation in delivering curative and preventive care.
Modern life-style has become a disease proliferator which has resulted in big business for equipment and pharmaceutical companies. The year 2018 will prove to be a game changer in the overall improvement of the health sector. The healthcare industry is progressing at a rapid pace and we expect to see massive investment from healthcare leaders in the Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence. New hospitals are coming to market fully digitised without the burden of legacy systems (surviving computer systems).
Breakthroughs in information gathering, research, treatments, and communications have given medical providers new tools to work with and fresh ways to practice medicine. Some of the top medical technology advancements set to dominate in 2018 are Telehealth, Wearable Technology, Personalized Medicine, Graphic Processing Units (GPU) etc.
South Africa was ranked last among 19 nations in a global survey that measured healthcare system efficiency – the ability to deliver maximum results at the lowest possible cost (Future Health Index), indicating considerable inefficiencies in the budget that is spent. As demand for healthcare rises, the pressure to reduce cost and show value increases. Technology not only addresses key healthcare problems in developing economies, but adds value too. While both the general population and healthcare professionals in South Africa see the importance of connected care technology in prevention of medical issues and overall health of the population, the technology is still perceived to be underutilised.
Telemedicine uses telecommunications and electronic information technologies to provide clinical healthcare at a distance, improving access to medical services and specialists. Telemedicine can bridge the rural-urban divide by extending low-cost consultation and diagnosis facilities to the remotest areas via high-speed internet and telecommunication.
The general South African population and healthcare professionals believe that connected care technology would make healthcare more expensive in the long-term. In order to increase the likelihood of connected care technology being used, training opportunities, informational resources such as databases of available technologies, and government subsidies to manage cost concerns, may be needed to improve health systems at a tertiary level. Digitisation could additionally offer a breakthrough opportunity to improve healthcare.
These findings indicate that there is significant room for growth if investments are made in South Africa.