With the current average global population increase estimated at 81 million people per year, enabling access to healthcare continues to be a priority. One of the key strategies is obviously to train more doctors and nurses, but a surprisingly overlooked – yet crucial – factor lies in technology businesses that are enabling healthcare providers to reach people more effectively by increasing efficiency. The onslaught of Covid-19 has brought the necessity for a robust health tech industry into sharp relief – it has been vital as the world has had to rethink how it enables access to, and delivery of, an efficient healthcare system during a pandemic.
As a result, capital for African health tech startups has increased by 257.5 per cent from 2019 to 2020, according to a report by Disrupt Africa. One company that had already been making headway before the pandemic is African digital health company Helium Health, which initially set out in 2016 to transform hospitals on the continent by improving how records are kept and operations managed. Backed by international investors including Y Combinator and Zenith, the company has developed cutting-edge technology specifically designed for healthcare providers in Africa to accelerate efficiencies in health systems. By providing a robust electronic health record and hospital management system (as an alternative to typical paper-based systems), Helium Health enables African healthcare facilities to reduce waste, improve their accounting and record keeping, build medical intelligence and become more efficient caregiving operations.
In the UK, Visionable has been transforming healthcare by significantly improving patient outcomes using technology. Visionable’s Connected Ambulances allow paramedics to link up digitally with specialists so that they can deliver rapid stroke diagnoses before patients reach A&E. These vitally swift judgements mean that patients spend less time in hospital and have faster recovery times, with fewer long-lasting health effects. Using Visionable, the duration of hospital stays is cut from 17 days to two days. You can read more in this article from the Financial Times.
Meanwhile, Boston-USA based telehealth start up Patient Discovery was in a prime position to virtually support cancer patients as Covid accelerated the adoption of telehealth. Already a trusted resource for 30 of the country’s leading hospitals, it has used its engagement platform to create the best remote appointment and care experience for cancer patients during the pandemic.
Today is World Health Day with a focus for 2021 on building a fairer, healthier world. As health tech companies continue to source ways to drive efficiencies to improve healthcare systems, we are reminded that the Covid-19 pandemic has had a severe impact on the fight against many preventable diseases. Simon Bland, CEO of the Global Institute for Disease Elimination (GLIDE) – which works with partners to accelerate progress towards disease elimination – reminds us in this article on Global Health Newswire that “despite its challenges, COVID-19 offers us the opportunity to think more synergistically… As past outbreaks have shown, deaths from preventable diseases increase dramatically when healthcare systems are overwhelmed and fragmented.”
How important then that – now even more so than ever – we use technology to do this and make efficient improvements within our global healthcare systems to find time and cost savings and build a healthier, fairer world for all.