Unlike other countries in Africa, South Africa's healthcare system is digital-ready and these 3 tech solutions are reaching millions of patients monthly
The role of digital solutions in boosting healthcare in South Africa cannot be overemphasized. The advent of technology, especially internet and internet-enabled services, has made it much easier for the Southern Africa powerhouse to provide healthcare services to its citizens.
Patient feedback is extremely valuable, and technology is currently the best medium to assist doctors in gathering this information to gain deeper insight and improve symptom monitoring, diagnosis, treatment and overall patient care. This is where FOLUP is making a positive impact on South Africa’s healthcare.
About two years ago, FOLUP, a mobile and web-based health communication platform, was launched in South Africa. The service provides patients with a secure platform on which they can actively participate in their health management processes. Likewise, FOLUP can serve as a medium for physicians to interact with their patients—enabling collaboration to collectively bring about improvement in healthcare and ensure that patients are satisfied.
Patients can anonymously build networks or ‘circles of care’ to find support and engage with patients with similar conditions. Developed as a web ecosystem, it allows patients to connect with existing forums, apps and software that will interface with a myriad of medical apps, peripheral devices and self-help tools in the mobile health (mhealth) market.
Co-founder and director of FOLUP South Africa, Simon Spurr, said,
“Managing complex diseases is a difficult undertaking for health professionals and patients alike. Clinicians’ time for patients is often limited, which can leave them feeling isolated. Through improved patient monitoring and doctor feedback, this platform provides an overview of the entire health patient experience and has the ability to increase patients’ control over their diseases, levels of emotional well-being and accelerate patient healing.”
Bytes Healthcare Solutions
The focus of BHS is to ensure that more of the money allocated for healthcare in South Africa is actually spent on healthcare—considering the non-health related costs often incurred.
According to the company, South Africa's huge number of medical aid schemes and the complexities of their different systems—coupled with the sheer number of claims processed—place a heavy burden on the already stressed healthcare industry’s administrative capacity.
Through its solutions, Med-e-Mass and MediSwitch, healthcare professionals, service providers and medical scheme administrators can now dedicate more time to the delivery of healthcare and spend less time on administration.
Med-e-Mass is providing front-end practice management applications—including debt management systems that assist the medical practice with its office management and financial record-keeping routines.
It recently released eLIXIR, a clinical and financial management application that is an improvement on existing technology. eLIXIR offers the integration of clinical electronic records with the administrative and financial functionalities required for effective office management.
It also allows on and off-site synchronization of patient records to facilitate more effective control of records at multiple locations, and is capable of storing and exchanging all common formats of graphical images—including x-rays and dental charts. The Med-e-Mass customer base, some 9000 professionals countrywide, is serviced from four regional offices and 50 contracted dealerships.
MediSwitch, on the other hand, provides electronic claim-switching services in South Africa—including real-time and batch submission of medical claims and related transactions for the majority of medical service providers.
The service is being used by customers such as retail pharmacies, medical specialists, general practitioners and hospitals. Every month, the service is being used to deliver more than 9 million electronic healthcare transactions to all medical schemes in South Africa.
It also has a replicated switching system with full redundancy from two separate installations—a first and still unique service to the South African healthcare industry. This facility is a crucial piece of the reliability and business continuity required by an industry that is increasingly using online, real-time systems for its communications and information exchange requirements.
“The solutions offered by MediSwitch are equally of benefit to service providers and scheme administrators, all of whom have an interest in reducing administrative workload, streamlining business processes and decreasing the turn-around times for information and claims processing,” the company said on its website.
Unlike most countries in Africa, the healthcare system in South Africa is almost entirely digital, thus offering digital health innovators a more organized sector to develop solutions for. The structure there is similar to those of the United Kingdom, and to some extent those in the USA and other developed countries—making it relatively easy to plug solutions from these countries into the healthcare landscape in the region.
The nuviun industry network is intended to contribute to discussion and stimulate debate on important issues in global digital health. The views are solely those of the author.
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