The rapid evolution of technology across the globe and its mergence with solving health disparities has reconfigured the medical landscape in Africa. While prior medical needs in Africa only catered to those with private insurance or funds to afford top-grade care, companies are beginning to realize the potential of investing into the region’s healthcare market. According to McKinsey, the undeveloped medical services industry on the African continent is worth around $35 billion. With an increased demand for medical services at affordable costs, digitalization of basic healthcare needs serves as a tool to bridge the gap between patients and quality care.
Indeed cost can prove to be a challenge for Africans willing to seek healthcare, making the need to provide pre-paid private health insurance of paramount importance. One organization that’s beginning to recognize the potential of taking affordable aid online is the international company Sphera Bluoshen. The business implemented a program called M Health into the healthcare market of Africa, which provides 24/7 consultation for medical and pediatric needs through their own digital app. This online service allows patients to interact with doctors and receive once out-of-reach medical information in a matter of minutes. During the consultation, the medical specialist will provide detailed information and answer any health-related questions the individual might have. Additionally, the program is personalized because the connection between professional and patient is based on specific diagnoses. Companies, like Sphera Bluoshen, are starting to understand the impact of an integrated approach to healthcare on the continent by combining global knowledge with local expertise.
Additionally, location is a barrier for doctors seeking to aid individuals who are simply out of reach for their services. This can prove fatal as Africans seeking hospital care or basic medical needs are simply unreachable as a result of geographic location.
CNN describes how the new frontier of mobile healthcare is helping reshape the lives of those isolated from quality medical service. The reality is in some parts of the continent, even if aid is provided, there is no guarantee medical images will be seen by health officials who can correctly diagnose the patient. With the emergence of digitalized healthcare, however, now even remote regions of Africa can receive reports or attain consultation from doctors by using available technologies.
Across the continent nearly 65%-89% of adults are equipped with cellphones according to the Pew Research Center. The growing use of these mobile devices has allowed for the online services to be widely accessible to the African population.
For example, Kenya has fully embraced the multiple innovations that technologies provide for addressing health disparities. The country recently piloted a kit that transforms an individual’s cellphone into a medical tool that can examine eyes. Other provided services include reminding pregnant mothers to contact health professionals if they experience medical issues via smartphone or receiving calls as a reminder to take medicine at specific times of day.
Access to affordable and efficient healthcare still proves to be a problem to individuals across Africa, but technology provides an opportunity to create effective solutions. By using creativity, companies could begin discovering ways to make medical services mobile, not only reaping substantial financial gains but also equipping thousands of African people with the medical care they need.
Zandre Campos is chairman and CEO of ABO Capital, an international investment firm that invests in companies in the healthcare, energy, transportation, hospitality, technology and real estate sectors throughout Africa. ABO’s mission is to create global value for developing countries in Africa, while contributing to their economic development.