Unique challenges necessitate unique solutions.
Today COVID-19 has changed the way we relate to healthcare and has accelerated a global consciousness on digital health. In this article, I will point out some of the most interesting tech-based solutions that are emerging and cost-effective that can make a difference in the healthcare industry in Africa.
Although adequate time is crucial in medical healing, nonetheless urgent response is needed in critical medical emergencies and drones will help achieve it. They will fly the extra miles to deliver drugs, vaccine, blood, Organs or medical equipment. In rural areas or places where infrastructure is poor or there’s a lack of hospitals and pharmacies, using drones can be a game changer like was the case in Rwanda, where it has helped to significantly reduce mortality during childbirth.
Can you imagine doing an ultrasound scan in your home without the need of a doctor’s appointment or waiting time or travel cost? In recent years, accurate pocket-sized portable ultrasound devices have come to the Market and they have been changing the narrative. This device is able to give accurate and instant diagnosis wherever the patient is located, plus it helps healthcare providers overcome the challenge of transporting vulnerable patients in volatile situations. It can also be employed in the operating room in critical cases such as interventional procedures.
If you are used to seeing your doctor in person for every minor ill-feeling, now you can you can be at rest. Today patients and consumers can wear devices such as Fitbits and smart watches that collate information regarding their personal health and exercise. This information can vary from temperature, blood pressure, blood oxygen, optical heart rate, to heart rate variability and more. Patients can send these data to the doctor or other healthcare professionals in real time and from the comfort of their own houses.
-Medical Virtual Reality
Medical Virtual Reality (VR) is already transforming healthcare and it is beneficial for both patients and medical professionals. Imagine a pregnant lady sitting in a very pleasant place, somewhere in Africa, the sun warming her skin, waves touching her feet and a soothing voice saying “breathe in, breathe out”, courtesy of a VR. This is what a Medical Virtual Reality is all about. The patient is immersed in a simulation scene of a real life situation helping to distract the patient from the pain and anxiety of treatment. So visualize the power of VR and how it can help reduce labor pain/trauma in pregnant women, improve wound care for burn Injuries, improve vaccination in children. Moreover, VR training is also one of the best innovative educational tools for medical education and rehabilitation. It makes training more engaging and interactive and more interesting for healthcare professionals and students.
-Telemedicine/Mobile Healthcare and Innovation Hubs
This was originally a Japanese solution to overcome healthcare challenges via a multidisciplinary approach. These innovation centers bring together academia, clinicians, patients, industrial partners and Policy makers to develop attentive, comprehensive, smart, tech-based solutions to healthcare problems. Hence, the establishment of Healthcare Innovation Hubs should be encouraged Africa-wide to give us a better chance at successfully tackling problems within the health sector.
In conclusion, Disruptive Technologies are here to stay and can facilitate rapid transformation in the delivery of healthcare in Africa as they have in developed climes around the world. It is therefore important that we embrace and deploy these solutions early to optimize their potential in saving lives and restoring hope.