Is South Africa’s health sector on track for the future?

PUBLISHED: Wed, 01 Mar 2017 11:57:01 GMT

South Africa ranked eighth out of 13 countries in the Future Health Index (FHI) due to lower access to healthcare and poor healthcare integration.

Africa’s most advanced economy scored 56.7 out of 100 in the index, which measures a country’s readiness to meet future health challenges.

FHI examines perceptions of access to healthcare, the state of integration and adoption of connected care technology, as these components provide opportunities to deliver better patient health and value.

“In line with South Africa’s below average score on access (63.2), both healthcare providers (HCPs) and patients prioritise improving access as something the government should do to improve public health,” as stated in the report.

Health providers note the limited amount of resources, lack of staff and education as current challenges for the market – all of which impact access.

According to the report, South Africa’s health system is not perceived as being very integrated at present, with 64 per cent of surveyed patients and 58 per cent of HCPs agreeing.

The need for integration is validated by the fact that 77 per cent of surveyed patients have had to repeatedly give the same information to multiple doctors, and HCPs agree, stating that integrated health can improve the health of South Africa’s population in a variety of situations, for instance when treating, diagnosing, or when using health systems for treatments that will prove preventative.

“Further supporting this, in interviews with HCPs, enthusiasm for integration was clear, as they believe that integration would free up resources and improve patient care overall – additionally, HCPs acknowledge that an integrated healthcare system would go a long way in overcoming many of the challenges that the healthcare industry currently faces.”

The worry is that integration of the health system could lead to healthcare becoming more expensive in the long term, a cost which is already considered as a top barrier to further healthcare coordination among patients.

“In interviews, HCPs acknowledged that limited financial funds and resources are a challenge, resulting in HCPs questioning the feasibility of implementing a connected care or an integrated health system,” cited in the report.

A General Practitioner with 15+ years’ experience from the private sector, mentioned in the report, reckons the future of integrated health depends on the people who are interested in implementing and financing integrated health technology. “If people are willing to finance that type of project, doctors are more than willing to use that type of technology.”

This survey was fielded from February 24, 2016 to April 8, 2016 across 13 countries; Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Japan, The Netherlands, Singapore, South Africa, Sweden, UAE, U.K. and U.S.

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