Rise in the digital health revolution: A future for healthcare in Africa?
Survival from a heart attack depends on how fast the patient can be transported to the hospital and how fast the heart can be restarted at in the hospital. Such emergency services in most areas in Africa are still not possible leading to loss of life.
There is an increase in investment in digital health especially in the developed countries and now shifting towards developing countries as consumers are readier to accept digital products than before, ranging from mobile health apps, the use of wearable sensors to measure heart rate, and automated diagnostic equipment. About one-fifth of spending on health goes to waste, for example, wrong and unnecessary treatments. The Economists states that digital health may reduce this wasteful spending on healthcare.
Digital healthcare also offers something special; new services that might involve taking no drugs at all. It is easier and cheaper to use a healthcare app, or an online healthcare coach, or wearable devices that persuade you to walk a certain distance every day than visits to doctors, hospitals and purchase of drugs. This will mean that pharmaceutical companies and hospitals will put their patients first rather than the commercial aspect of healthcare as they will provide services based on patient outcomes.
The ability to consult a doctor online offers something special to healthcare, and that is convenience. Millions have been invested in online consultation platforms in India and China. Telemedicine is growing rapidly and it is time for Africans to embrace the new wind of change. It is estimated by ISH Markit that GPs will conduct 5.4m consultations a year by 2020. Babylon, a London-based start-up reckons that 85% of medical consultations can be done effectively online.
The biggest winners from digital healthcare and online healthcare will be patients who receive better care, and those who avoid becoming patients at all. And this is what Keafon Health promises. Stay connected to Keafon Health by signing up for our newsletter below.
Dr. Dzekem is a physician, researcher and a health policy advocate. He obtained his Doctor of Medicine (MD) degree from the University of Buea and practiced as a primary care physician in Cameroon before moving to the University of Ibadan, Nigeria for post graduate studies and eventually to the United States as an Inaugural Obama Scholar where he obtained a Master in Public Health Policy and International Development, with focus on global health and health systems from the Harris School of Public Policy, University of Chicago. Dr. Dzekem has served as a speaker in international conferences, he is the author/co-author to several articles in peer-reviewed journals and a reviewer for the Cardiovascular Journal of Africa. He is the Co-founder and Executive Director of the Keafon Health. He has special interest in strengthening health systems and improving access to primary care in underserved communities.