Covid-19 drives investment in telehealth and remote monitoring
Roughly half of South Africa’s healthcare leaders are currently investing most heavily in telehealth (48%), ahead of other health technologies including digital health records (34%) or AI (15%). A change in Government policy has potentially helped boost telehealth adoption since the beginning of the crisis. Following the initial lockdown in March 2020, the Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) relaxed telehealth guidelines throughout the country to allow for virtual patient visits.
Additionally, about a quarter of South African healthcare leaders are currently investing most heavily in remote patient monitoring solutions, such as cardiac implant surveillance or vital-sign sensors at home, which have become increasingly essential because of COVID-19. In fact, they are investing in these technologies today at higher rates than healthcare leaders across many of the other countries surveyed (26% vs. 18% 14-country average).
Investment in AI and predictive technologies expected to increase
Investment in digital health technology is growing rapidly across the continent, and South Africa is no exception. In three years’ time, roughly a third of South African healthcare leaders (38%) believe their hospital or healthcare facility will most need to invest in implementing predictive healthcare technologies, such as AI and machine learning, to be prepared for the future. This is a significant growth from just 5% who say their workplace most needs to invest in these technologies today.
Partnerships and collaborations seen as a catalyst for continuous innovation
Roughly one-third of South African healthcare leaders believe their hospital or healthcare facility needs to prioritise strategic partnerships and collaborations to successfully implement digital health technologies. About a quarter also feel that their workplace most needs to invest in strategic partnerships three years from now to be prepared for the future (27%). By cooperating with partners across the wider healthcare ecosystem, healthcare leaders can continue to foster innovation within their hospitals and healthcare facilities.
Even with a clear view to the future, South African healthcare leaders also acknowledge that staff’s lack of experience with new technologies is a barrier impeding their ability to prepare for the future. The top barriers for the adoption of digital health technologies include lack of training (29%), legacy systems (29%), and technology infrastructure limitations (27%).
Finally, the report findings illustrated that even in the midst of COVID-19, the South African government has reaffirmed its commitment to the economic, social and environmental pillars of sustainable development. This focus has already led to the country’s improved ranking in the Environmental Performance Index (EPI).