Access to quality and affordable healthcare, I believe is a universal right and the achieving of highest possible service penetration should be high on the agenda of government and other complimentary agencies. The government has started on its part with the implementation of the KNH ICT masterplan, but one that will in my opinion take more than two political terms to get implemented in totality. This means that the task of transitioning to smarter health care lies in the hands of the private sector and other ecosystem players in the short to medium term while still aligned to the masterplan vision, whose implementation I hope will be based on open standards to allow third parties play well.
While parts of the world are already exited about wearable technology and the opportunity presented, we in Africa are still left dealing with the rudimentary, that even in its “low-tech “factor state will still deliver immense benefit across the entire ecosystem. Having invested myself in the healthcare vertical, it has become apparent that the problem, is not a technology one, as web and mobile are now ubiquitous channels, used by millions of consumers across the continent.
Stifling what would otherwise be a runaway success in the deployment of technology and delivery of real value in the healthcare ecosystem is silos. Agreed, everyone and their cohort has a mandate and funding partner obligations meet, but this has led to replication of effort and an honest waste of resources that leaves us mark-timing in the world of extrapolated possibilities.
Requests for proposals are constantly flying around to implement this or that service, and it has become a bore seeing the same requirements targeting the same base with similar services but packaged as different brand. Run as pilots, many of these projects quickly fizzle out after the data is collected, reports done and funding comes to a close, as they were never rolled out with sustainability in mind. The raw data is hardly shared beyond closed networks which of course perpetuates the vicious cycle. There will be a TB study, a malaria one, followed by a mother-child intervention program – sponsored by NGO’s then a donor partner funded intervention for polio run by the government; all independent and opaque to each other, with lots of valuable data generated but no unique insights extracted as would have been possible off a unified framework.
When you visualize the entire healthcare ecosystem, you will get a feeling of how big it is with intricate relationships between different players and institutions. Big, messy and complicated scenarios present the best opportunities to layer service components that simplify user experiences from both patient and provider perspectives with the added benefit of reduced cost in service delivery and rollout of niche initiatives.
Same agenda, different tools and an opaque co-existence has us stagnated and we must break the cycle, if we are to truly see the citizen served.