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Re-booting technology in SA healthcare

By Insights No Comments

While technology adoption amongst clinicians in South Africa remains slow, co-ordination between industry stakeholders is likely to contribute to a higher level of up-take in the coming years and ultimately improve the quality of healthcare data in the country.

This was one of the key comments from the recent “Practice Of The Future” event hosted by Dynamic Body Technology at the Wits University eZone recently. Participants in the workshop were exposed to a variety of topics including social media ethics and data handling for medical practitioners, medical animation, Google tools to enhance visibility of medical practices, sensor technology and 21stcentury learning environments.

“FitBit recently announced that it had recorded its 150 billionth hour of heart rate data and Discovery has over 110 million tracked events in their Vitality program – consumers are embracing the world of wearable and sensor technology but clinicians appear to be behind the curve in terms of embracing technology” says Dynamic Body Technology CEO Marc Ashton.

Constitutional and media law expert Avani Singh from Power Singh Incorporated – who addressed the audience on the subjects of social media and ethics around data handling in the healthcare environment – did however caution that the intersection of technology and healthcare throws up interesting legal challenges for clinicians to consider. “Technology is a clear enabler for the healthcare sector but clinicians, researchers, academics and healthcare companies themselves need to ensure that they understand the ethical requirements before they start to gather data or share information across technology platforms.”

Paula Barnard-Ashton who heads up the eZone in the School of Therapeutic Sciences at Wits University believes that investment in 21stcentury learning environments will  facilitate greater adoption of technology in the coming years: “When we started the eZone project for therapeutic sciences, the lecturers were naturally wary. Now we have an environment where students are able to live stream with lectures over Skype from the hospital or clinical setting. Students and lecturers are trying out cutting edge sensor technology, 3D modelling, online collaboration and simulation that will prepare them for the changing world of work  and to prove that we are on par with the private sector, our project came second at the recent ‘Learning Idols’ at the Learning Innovation Africa 2018 conference”

Dr. Tshepo P. Maaka – presenting medical animation on behalf of Cabblow Studios – made the observation that while using new and diversified technology to improve medical practices lags behind in its adoption, this should be viewed as both a challenge and an opportunity: “In a market like South Africa, the situation is compounded by the stratification and independence of how practices work.  In addition, we have patients who have access to high-quality healthcare through government hospitals and clinics and through medical insurance companies, but who have challenges in understanding their insurance cover plans, their journey of accessing clinical services in a hospital maze, the complexities  of the informed consent process for surgical procedures and the technicalities of the medical lingo. If clinicians and Occupational Health professionals begin to invest in technology and educational initiatives such as medical animation, we can begin to enhance healthcare service provision in practices through preventative measures and health promotion, where patients understand healthcare levels and services better and where we enhance waiting rooms experiences in South Africa.”

Dynamic Body Technology Chief Technology Officer Stephen Meyerowitz concludes: “I believe we need a mind-shift change: To democratise health sector, clinicians need to recognise that they are on the frontlines in terms of data gathering and by using technology they can share actionable insights with all stakeholders.”