Digital Healthcare in Africa

Posted on March 31, 2016 12:13 am

Africa is a region in dire need of an integrated approach which addresses disparity between member countries, regions, hospitals and health workers vital in achieving successful health systems. By connecting patients and care providers with public health workers via mobile telecommunications on available cellular networks, African countries can fill critical gaps in primary care and have a lower cost base at the lowest level of intervention. Many of these digital solutions are already at hand and can help overcome three crucial obstacles like the distance, lacking infrastructure and insufficient number of medical professionals. With an overburdened hospital system or the nearest hospital being too far away, many African women and their unborn children would generally not be seen by a doctor. However, by embracing technology, doctors can clinically assess the data when midwives send it through using mobile technologies. This type of solution could serve as an inspiration for the whole region, especially if it is based on the power of public-private partnerships. It would also allow African governments and the private sector to bundle their forces and align their agendas to ensure that health care solutions meet national standards and are quickly implemented and scaled.

Mobility is transforming healthcare as clinicians embrace new devices and methods of working to deliver better and faster care to patients everywhere. Now, healthcare industry professionals in the continent are appreciating the growing need for mobility. To drive successful adoption, organisations need to formalise their plans.No doubt in my mind that mobility is about more than just the device. It no longer suffices for healthcare companies to just support mobility in the workplace. Instead, healthcare administrators should look to maximise the value of their investment by applying it to their biggest challenges. The emergence of mobile devices, healthcare organisations are adapting and rethinking traditional IT best practices to enable their secure use and have expanded beyond device management. Healthcare organisations in Africa are addressing the management of apps and data especially as clinicians require on the go access as they move from hospital to office to clinic.For instance, South Africa’s Integrated Health Information Systems are leveraging desktop virtualisation to enable healthcare staff to securely access and share patient information more swiftly across the country’s public hospitals. The virtualisation technology enables a consistent desktop experience for doctors and healthcare staff when retrieving latest data on the patient’s status across different healthcare facilities. In turn, this promotes efficient information sharing and seamless care integration along the care continuum. As an expanding array of healthcare applications become available, healthcare providers must be able to easily access their resources on any device, at any location.

With enterprise mobility management, IT solution can enable employees to move beyond the constraints of fixed locations and standard Desktops to enable new freedom and flexibility in the way people work.However, as care always revolves around people, even in a hyper-connected world, there will still be a need for well-educated professionals at the right places.Providing care at the clinic level rather than at the hospital could also help distribute care more closely to the population and increase access. That is why companies like Philips are working with professional associations and training health professionals to operate sophisticated medical devices in African countries. By adopting these distributed and connected technologies and care models, Africa may leapfrog ahead of other regions to provide more affordable and inclusive health care to its fast-growing population.In terms of digital advancements and development goals, Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs) goals include an end to preventable deaths of newborns and under-five children, universal access to sexual and reproductive health care services.These are worthwhile and achievable goals.Access to quality health care is a human right and an economic necessity, and Africa still has many challenges to face, particularly when it comes to mothers and children. So let the image of mother and child inspire African countries efforts, the very nature of their bond is connected and co-operative, which explains its impact and enduring power.If mobile technology and collaboration between governments and the private sector can mimic even half this power, Africa will do well over the coming decades.

Contador Harrison