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Future Health Index 2019 South Africa Country Report

The FHI editorial team

Aug 28, 2019 - reading time 3 mins

By the FHI editorial team

The Philips Future Health Index editorial team is always on the look-out for great content pieces that discuss the future of health, selecting the most interesting health-related stories for you to read.

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Philips’ fourth annual Future Health Index is based on a survey of over 15,000 individuals* that represent the adult general population and over 3,100 healthcare professionals across 15 countries. It explores digital health technology’s impact on the patient and healthcare professional experience. After analyzing the data, three clear themes have emerged:

Futuristic smart glasses

Engaged and digitally enhanced healthcare professionals

The increasing number of healthcare professionals who use technologies like digital health records (DHRs) and telehealth see better results and higher job satisfaction.

Empowered patients – access to data, more control

Individuals with access to their own health data are far more likely to engage with that information in ways that improve the quality of care and their overall experience.

Learning from forerunners 

The experiences of digital health technology forerunners like China, Saudi Arabia, India and Russia provide lessons that all countries can apply.

*Individuals: the general population of the 15 countries studied. They represent the population which healthcare systems ultimately serve, including current patients, previous patients, those with chronic conditions and those with limited prior interactions with the healthcare system.

Digital healthcare professionals removing barriers and adapting to new ways of working

  • More momentum is needed to increase the adoption and usage of digital health technology in South Africa.
  • When South African healthcare professionals are supported by digital technology, their working experience improves. Our professionals lag significantly behind the 15-country average when it comes to Digital Health Record adoption. 
  • Telehealth is an untapped tool for healthcare professionals, making access to healthcare professionals more convenient for individuals. 

    *Telehealth: either healthcare professional-to-patient or between healthcare professionals

  • Despite low levels of adoption, South African healthcare professionals are comfortable using AI for a variety of activities, including: patient monitoring, flagging anomalies, and staffing and patient scheduling. 
  • Digital health technologies benefit healthcare professionals and individuals’ experiences, with healthcare professionals reporting that their experience has been positively impacted over the past five years from data-related updates such as these. 
  • Reciprocal data sharing is not yet the norm in South Africa. 
  • South African health professionals are sharing patient data outside their facilities, but a lack of access to data sharing systems is hindering collaboration inside their health facilities.

Empowered Patients access to data and more control

  • South Africans are aware they need to be proactive to maintain their own health.
  • South African patients want ownership of their health data. 
  • Empowered patients are more proactive patients. 
  • Patients are more collaborative with healthcare professionals when they have ownership of their health data.
  • Convenience and self-awareness drive use among South Africans, but costs and data security hinder further adoption.

Learning from Forerunners

  • Some countries are making the most of digital health technology, moving steadily from gaining access to the technology, to using it, mainly China, India and Saudi Arabia.
  • Forerunner countries have used technology to overcome availability challenges. Telehealth adoption is higher among healthcare professionals in countries with low physician density, perhaps due to a demand for an alternative solution. 
  • Focus is needed to better South Africa’s healthcare infrastructure, as a way to evolve the National Health Insurance (NHI)

Incorporating new technologies into healthcare is a journey, not a one-time event. 

Health systems are in continuous transformation, and so are the digital healthcare technologies that countries are adopting. We need to enable healthcare professionals and patients to adapt as needs evolve and new challenges arise. That is why, as the challenges and needs evolve from country to country and certain barriers fall away, healthcare professionals and patients must adapt as they adopt new technologies, learning and adjusting as they go.

The Future Health Index is commissioned by Philips

Base sizes

  • South Africa: Total healthcare professionals (n=200) 
  • 15-country average: Total healthcare professionals (n=3,044)
  • South Africa: Total General Population (n= 1,007)
  • 15-country average: Total General Population (n=15,114)
  • South Africa: Total General Population with public health coverage (n=644)

For further information, please contact:  

Radhika Choksey                                                           

Philips Group Communications - Africa                               

Tel.: +31 6 25 25 9000                                                      


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 generated 2018 sales of EUR 18.1 billion and employs approximately 77,000 employees with sales and services in more than 100 countries. News about Philips can be found at 

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