Connecting Africa is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 3099067.


How the digital healthcare revolution will be realized

The way in which banking and travel have embraced technology has created a "digital first" approach for people across the world. Whether it is booking flights or transferring money, many of us now use the Internet to manage our finances and travel arrangements.

These are just two examples and digital technology has revolutionized many industries that impact our lives. When you compare this to the healthcare industry, you find that the digital revolution has not really happened when it comes to the way people manage their health.

Of course, there is some fantastic technology in healthcare. For example, there has been great progress with electronic medical records in hospitals and with the use of artificial Intelligence (AI) in medical imaging.

It has just not taken off in the same way as it has in other sectors. Why is this? Well the way in which we access healthcare is a big reason. People's medical data is often held in silos. We visit different services for different conditions and the data does not get connected. It's just a very fragmented industry.

This is actually where current technology can help, giving us the opportunity to connect everyone with their complete health record, and connect them to the right clinical expertise. There are three priorities areas to focus on:

  • Engaging people with their own care – everyone should have access to their entire medical record, through smartphone apps that link directly in to systems in hospitals and clinics.

  • Improving interoperability between systems – reducing data fragmentation to unify healthcare data into a single source.

  • Building big data sets – collecting comprehensive medical record data to support new technologies such as AI and IoT.

    Enabling people to genuinely engage with their own care will open up more capacity for a digital health revolution. For example, the management of long-term conditions currently requires face-to-face consultations in clinics or hospitals, for every patient. The development of intelligent algorithms, created collaboratively between the clinicians and data scientists, can change this.

    Many of the routine appointments for these conditions could be managed remotely through smartphones and wearable devices, certainly for patients with good control over their health. This would take pressure off a very busy clinical workforce. Patients would only require face-to-face appointments when their situation becomes more complex.

    This new digital healthcare landscape would also amplify the voice of expert clinical staff globally. Supporting doctors and nurses with data-driven AI means access to world-class decision support at the point of care, almost anywhere in the world.

    It would also function as a safety net against fatigue, bias and medical error. In areas with a skilled labor shortage, the technology can "upskill" the existing workforce to provide the best care available. This shouldn't distract from ongoing education efforts to improve clinical provision worldwide, but it's a parallel opportunity that we can't afford to miss.

    There are other important differences between healthcare and other industries. The complexity of the field and the data underpinning it are magnitudes greater than the travel or banking sectors. In healthcare, we also can't afford to make any mistakes. Lives depend on this technology. We have to be aware of these issues, get the right people working in the field, and make sure our focus remains on high-quality science.

    Technology is certainly not a panacea to solve all the problems of global healthcare delivery. However, by making citizens more engaged, ensuring continuity of care, and harnessing the power of big data, we can improve the experience of patients and clinicians, and start to get better healthcare outcomes around the world.

    — Frank Hester OBE is the founder and CEO of healthcare technology company TPP.

  • Innovation hub


    Google's Equiano subsea cable lands on SA shores

    Google’s Equiano subsea cable, which seeks to connect Europe to Africa via the ocean, has made its final stop landing in Melkbosstrand, Western Cape, South Africa.


    Women in Tech: Spotlight on legal tech with Life.file's Sinal Govender

    Life.file co-founder, Sinal Govender, talks to Connecting Africa as part of our Women's Month series about her career and how we can encourage more young girls to enter the legal tech field.

    More Innovation hub

    Africa Tech Perspectives


    Women in Tech: Spotlight on inclusivity with Digital Council Africa's Juanita Clark

    Digital Council Africa founder and CEO, Juanita Clark, talks to Connecting Africa as part of our Women's Month series about her career and what needs to be done to make the tech industry intentionally inclusive.


    Women in Tech: Spotlight on legal tech with Life.file's Sinal Govender

    Life.file co-founder, Sinal Govender, talks to Connecting Africa as part of our Women's Month series about her career and how we can encourage more young girls to enter the legal tech field.


    Digital inclusion as a catalyst for economic empowerment: Mastercard's Imelda Ngunzu

    Mastercard's Imelda Ngunzu talks to Connecting Africa about how digital payment solutions and mobile money are transforming the lives of small business owners, women and marginalized groups in East Africa.

    More AfricaCom perspectives

    Partner perspectives

    5G is lighting up the future of North Africa
    By Chris Meng, VP of Huawei Northern Africa Carrier Business Department

    The moving target that is telecoms fraud
    By Clémentine Fournier, Regional VP Sales, Africa, BICS

    How mobile operators in Africa can address signalling threats and secure the network
    By Katia Gonzalez, Head of Fraud and Security at BICS

    All Partner Perspectives

    Latest video

    More videos

    Guest Perspectives


    Omdia View: June 2022

    By Omdia Analysts

    5G was the major news trend across Africa in June, as Orange became the first operator to launch 5G in Réunion and operators in Senegal accelerated their 5G plans despite spectrum delays.


    Omdia View: May 2022

    By Omdia Analysts

    SpaceX-owned Starlink's plans to launch a satellite broadband service in Africa was a major highlight in May 2022, says Omdia's analysts.

    More Guest Perspectives

    Upcoming events

    Africa Tech Festival
    November 7-11, 2022
    CTICC, Cape Town
    More Upcoming events

    Archived webinars

    Africa Green ICT: Lighting Up a Sustainable Continent

    The ICT industry is the leading industry in the commitment to carbon neutrality, whose focus has shifted from setting ambitious targets to taking initiatives. The push for zero-carbon and for green energy development, it isn't just about CSR – it's also good for sustainable business.

    The path to sustainable development requires green energy. Governments are looking at potential policy approaches to make green energy more widely available and affordable. Without sustainable energy, there will be no digital transformation and no chance of making Africa more economically competitive in the post-pandemic era.

    Africa Green ICT Webinar 2022 will bring together ICT industry leaders and senior industrial analysts to provide insight, best practices and key learnings on how to achieve zero-carbon targets and practice green development in Africa.

    More Webinars

    Sponsored video

    More videos

    Flash poll

    All polls

    Like us on Facebook

    Newsletter Sign Up

    Sign Up