Top technology trends advancing healthcare in Africa

The healthcare industry is witnessing unprecedented transformation, it is estimated that by 2020 healthcare in Africa will be needing more than $25 billion in physical assets. Technology is flipping the script when it comes to delivering healthcare solutions.

Martin Walshaw, Senior Systems Engineer at F5 Networks, says “Hardly a day goes by without arrays of shiny new kit and solutions coming on-line; recent innovations gaining the “smart” prefix include everything from diapers to sensors tracking whether medication is adequately ingested and absorbed.

A report commissioned by F5 Networks highlights some of the innovative changes that tech will bring in the healthcare industry.

The Future of Apps report looks into Medtronic, which has been leveraging IBM’s Watson Artificial Intelligence (AI) platform to develop a cognitive app called Sugar.IQ. The app taps into around 10 000 anonymous patient records to detect patterns and predict diabetic events three to four hours before they occur.

“Where we once only monitored, we will soon be able to predict and counsel before issues arise. Where high-tech care and consultancy were once confined to the clinic, they are now entering our homes and reaching developing countries from afar,” says Walshaw.

Another trend making a huge impact in the healthcare arena is telemedicine. It offers patients and healthcare providers options that were previously not available. Accessing healthcare solutions is no longer limited by geographic location. This technology allows patients in remote areas to receive the highest quality of care, providing they have an internet connection and a smartphone. Telemedicine can also save both time and money.

Microsoft and the Botswana Innovation Hub launched Africa’s first telemedicine service. Now, health personnel can conduct consultations to patients in the most remote areas via Skype for Business. Doctors can also access high-resolution pictures on the cloud, meaning they can “examine” the patient in real-time, regardless of where the patient is, and make a diagnosis and prescribe treatment straight away.

Virtual Reality
Virtual Reality is not only for gaming and watching videos, it has a part to play in healthcare. Healthcare organisations can use VR for various purposes including helping patients who are in pain. It can also help people tolerate medical procedures that are usually very painful. VR can be used to track body movements, allowing patients to use the movements of their therapy exercises as interactions in a VR game. For healthcare professionals, VR can be a teaching tool. It can be used to learn anatomy, practise operations and teach infection control.

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