News center | ​South Africa

Jun 09, 2017

Only 33% of Healthcare Professionals in South Africa Believe the Overall Health of South Africans is Positive

  • Future Health Index commissioned by Philips reveals that South African’s perceptions of the current health system do not align with the realities.
  • South Africans perceive that they have more access and greater integration of the healthcare system and better adoption of connected care technology, than they have in reality. The large gap between the perception of the healthcare system and its realities, indicate ample room for growth.

FHI 2017

Johannesburg, South Africa Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA), a global leader in health technology, today released the South African results of the second annual Future Health Index (FHI). The study builds on data from over 33,000 participants in 19 countries and advisory input from leading academic and global non-profit organisations.


Local findings indicate that South Africans generally evaluate their health positively, with the majority (80%) of the population rating their current health positively (good, very good or excellent), while healthcare professionals are less optimistic. Just one third (33%) of healthcare professionals agree that the overall health of the population in South Africa is positive.


Healthcare professionals’ perceptions of the health of the nation are likely driven by their perceptions of access to care, as they are less likely to agree that their patients have access to care across all phases of the continuum compared with the 19-country average.


Despite the discrepancy between the South African general population and healthcare professionals’ perception of health, the results suggest that both groups perceive they have more access to healthcare than what the system is set up for in reality, which signals that there is an opportunity to improve access to care further.


“Through the Future Health Index, we are examining current realities of how well the healthcare system is set up for the future in order to quantify the readiness of health systems across five continents to meet future healthcare challenges,” said Jasper Westerink, Chief Executive Officer of Philips Africa. “The FHI has uncovered a number of significant areas where our healthcare system must transform if we are going to succeed in delivering long-term value-based care. With these findings as a guiding light, we are engaging all relevant parties around the table to drive the  debate and ultimately improve the quality and cost effectiveness of healthcare for future generations.”


Where there are distinct gaps between reality and perception, it is harder to design a clear plan for future development, as both the reality and perception need to be addressed in order to advance. There is a call for greater integration globally, as the study clearly reveals that the largest perception/reality gap globally is centred on health systems integration, which also aligns to local findings.


“The general population often have a perception that healthcare is integrated and people only find that the integration is not there once they are a patient in the system,” said Westerink.


Other key local findings include:


  • Nearly half (46%) of the South African population think the health system in the country is unintegrated, while healthcare professionals feel even more strongly about this (74%), an increase from 2016 (58%).
  • While both the general population and healthcare professionals in South Africa see the importance of connected care technology in prevention of medical issues and overall health of the population, the technology is still perceived to be underutilised.
  • South Africa’s efficiency ratio, which compares the country’s health expenditure to key health outcomes among the population is the lowest out of the 19 countries in this study, indicating considerable inefficiencies in the budget that is spent.


The general South African population and healthcare professionals believe that connected care technology would make healthcare more expensive in the long-term. In order to increase the likelihood of connected care technology being used, training opportunities, informational resources such as databases of available technologies, and government subsidies to manage cost concerns, may be needed to improve health systems at a tertiary level. “Conversely, digitisation could additionally offer a breakthrough opportunity to improve the African population’s healthcare by breaking down traditional cost structures,” said Westerink. “By connecting patients, and care providers with public health workers via mobile telecommunications on available cellular networks, we can fill critical gaps in primary care and have a lower cost base at the primary level of intervention.”


These findings indicate that there is significant room for growth if investments are made. “Despite these barriers, the potential for global health systems to benefit from better integration remains a positive possibility, while the large local gaps indicate ample room for growth,” says Westerink. “However, the data in itself is not enough; it is vital that the findings inform robust debate at a local level in order to benchmark measurements and ultimately contribute to progress,” Westerink explained.


The 2017 FHI highlights that it is not only important to adapt healthcare delivery across different healthcare systems, but in the meantime address the differences between the perceptions of users of the health system and the reality of how well the system is set up for the future in South Africa.


The local 2017 FHI results were released today at the Future of Health Summit 2017 in Johannesburg where several eminent speakers shared their experiences and case studies on the Transformation of Healthcare and the Future of Healthcare in South Africa. Follow the conversation on Twitter @PhilipsSAfrica. 


To download the 2017 FHI report in its entirety, please click on this link. For additional FHI related content, please visit:

Note to the Editor

In partnership with an independent global market research firm, a survey was fielded from January 18, 2017 to March 3, 2017 in 19 countries (Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, U.A.E., U.K. and U.S.) in their native language. To provide colour and context around the quantitative data, the quantitative survey was supplemented with 30-45 minute in-depth interviews conducted in partnership with Schlesinger from January 24-February 16, 2017. 


In South Africa, a combination of online, face-to-face (computer-assisted) and phone (computer-assisted) interviewing was used to reach a total sample of:

  • 203 HCPs (those who work in healthcare as a doctor, surgeon, nurse practitioner, registered nurse, licensed practical nurse or nurse across a variety of specializations) (estimated margin of error at the 95% confidence level of +/- 6.9%)1
  • 2,168 adults (margin of error at the 95% confidence level of +/- 2.1%). This sample was weighted to be representative of the national population based on census statistics for key demographics (including age, gender, income and region).


1 Estimated Margin of Error is the margin of error that would be associated with a sample of this size for the full healthcare professional population in each market. Since there is limited data available on the specific demographic profile of healthcare professionals in each country, this estimated margin of error is for directional purposes only.

About Royal Philips

Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA) is a leading health technology company focused on improving people's health and enabling better outcomes across the health continuum from healthy living and prevention, to diagnosis, treatment and home care. Philips leverages advanced technology and deep clinical and consumer insights to deliver integrated solutions. Headquartered in the Netherlands, the company is a leader in diagnostic imaging, image-guided therapy, patient monitoring and health informatics, as well as in consumer health and home care. Philips' health technology portfolio generated 2016 sales of EUR 17.4 billion and employs approximately 70,000 employees with sales and services in more than 100 countries. News about Philips can be found at

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Radhika Choksey

Radhika Choksey

Head of Brand, Communications and Digital Philips Africa

Tel: +31  62525 9000

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