We are currently living in a transformative age christened the 4th industrial revolution that is characterized by phenomenal computing power available in various devices. Perhaps the greatest of these is the mobile phone and its associated auxiliaries such as application software.
It also helps a great deal that increased affordability of mobile phones has resulted in a greater than 100 percent mobile telephony penetration in sub – Saharan Africa.
This digitally progressive wave provides an immense opportunity for creative, out-of-the-box thinking in the entire spectra of healthcare products and services.
It also helps that a large number of funders now have an increased appetite for innovative approaches to solving long-standing healthcare challenges; particularly those that can be scaled up. It is a game of numbers!
In healthcare financing, mobile phones have become instrumental in increasing financial access to healthcare through various products that merge demand, supply and payment mechanisms. In promotive and preventive healthcare, there are opportunities around utilising wearable devices to track health at individual levels.
A good example of this is the ability of COVID -19 positive patients undergoing home-based care to track vitals such as Oxygen saturation levels, blood pressure, respiratory and pulse rates; and report this to medics.
In curative healthcare, there is a continuously increasing appetite to simplify diagnostic services. Applications in this include mobile phone-based, artificial intelligence-driven solutions that use images to detect diseases such as eye problems. Also, there is a burgeoning of telemedicine platforms and that have driven down the cost of accessing health services.
In measuring and improving the quality of healthcare services, there are forward-thinking approaches such as SafeCare’s digital platform that helps health facilities to track and implement quality improvement plans.
The crux of the current developments in healthcare is that there are limitless possibilities of riding on the 4th industrial revolution to transform healthcare with scalable solutions, even in low-resource settings.
As these occur, it is critical to maintain emphasis on the basic ethical principles of medical practice such as patient confidentiality and benefit over harm.