Technology can make healthcare more accessible

A doctor attending to a patient. Telemedicine allows doctors to be more efficient. PHOTO| FILE | NATION

From the moment we wake up to the moment our heads hit the pillow at the end of a long day, we interact with many forms of technology.

Technology has become a key ingredient in life’s menu, influencing how we communicate and conduct business, and generally making life easier or more convenient.

Most, if not all industries, now rely on, or are influenced by technology in one way or another. Healthcare is no exception.

There are more than four billion internet users in the world, and nearly 500 million of them are in Africa. Closer home, Kenya’s internet penetration is said to be 83 per cent. These statistics affirm the tremendous growth in access to information through mobile technology. People are more aware and informed on many matters, including health, through a myriad connected health apps.

Despite these great advancements in technology, the healthcare system in Africa has not kept pace. Africa accounts for 25 per cent of the world’s disease burden, but only has two per cent of the world’s doctors.

As we strive to achieve universal health coverage, the use of technology to boost efficiency will be a critical component.

There are only a finite number of health professionals, and that is unlikely to change significantly soon. We must make these professionals efficient and effective in their daily and often arduous work.

Patients must be seen swiftly and diagnosed accurately, with the best, most effective course of treatments provided affordably.

Telemedicine can allow medical information to be shared for remote diagnosis; apps enable patients to access medical practitioners from their mobile phones and provide service fulfilment, knowledge and education for a range of illnesses; health trackers and apps allow one to monitor and track their health, nutrition and lifestyle habits. There is just about an app for every healthcare need.

Technology can also ensure better health outcomes by increasing access to quality and affordable medicines conveniently.

Through technology, patients can also verify the authenticity and quality of medical products.

The good news is that innovation is now at the heart of many healthcare initiatives and is currently shaping how the industry operates.

Not only has the impact of technology been seen and felt by patients who have benefitted greatly, it has also had a huge impact on medical processes both in and out of hospitals.

Healthcare professionals have also had to adapt to the changing needs of patients by adopting emerging technologies.

Mr Wood is the managing director MYDAWA, which uses technology to dispense medicine and health products through a mobile app


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