Johannesburg — THE adoption of digital solutions for data capturing in the healthcare sector are anticipated to revolutionise the delivery of services and solutions in the 15-country Southern Africa regional block.
The revolution is poised to be felt from testing, early detection and prevention to remote patient monitoring to help patients navigate the healthcare system with digital services, disease impact measurement and budget allocations.
"Data will inform disease profiling to get a better understanding of its prevalence and establish current and future costs of diseases in healthcare," said Charlton Murove, Head of Research: Board of Healthcare Funders of Southern Africa (BHF).
BHF members include medical schemes, administrators and managed care organisations throughout Southern Africa.
Speaking ahead of the ongoing 19th annual BHF Conference taking place in Sun City, South Africa, Murove said in a system with accurate and comprehensive data, the industry could better prioritise healthcare needs.
"Data will identify the requirements for systems to be put in place to ensure that we address current and future healthcare challenges."
Murove said while the application of data in the medical profession was lauded, several interventions were required to ensure that stakeholders built solid foundations that would adequately support the quest to achieve the underlying vision of universal health coverage.
The vision provides quality, equitable and affordable healthcare for all.
The expert said the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals require that healthcare be radically improved in the most underserved areas.
Thus, he said a combination of big data and the Internet of things (IoT) would undoubtedly be major forces for change in the years to come, as global connectivity increased and technology flourished.
Murove lamented that current systems were not geared towards providing health intelligence, with a gap prevalent between the doctor's diagnosis and the pharmacy.
The fragmentation in record keeping is a big challenge.
An example of the gaps in data collection is the 2017 outbreak of listeriosis in South Africa.
Until recently, listeriosis was not a notifiable condition. It was not reported to the Department of Health the first time it was diagnosed.
"If systems were built with health intelligence in mind, the industry would be better positioned to identify notifiable conditions quicker, for example," Murove said.
Southern Africa is the continent's largest regional bloc comprising Angola, Botswana, Comoros, Lesotho, Malawi, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe,