Collaboration key to effective healthcare in Africa

Chief Technology Advisor for SAP Africa, Simon Carpenter.
Chief Technology Advisor for SAP Africa, Simon Carpenter.

JOHANNESBURG  A TECHNOLOGY expert has encouraged multifarious stakeholders to collaborate in a more efficient way to implement effective healthcare in Africa.
Simon Carpenter, the expert, said collaborations would ensure the optimisation of scarce resources available while maximising the potential of a growing population.
“I would argue that making healthcare work in Africa is inherently a network problem,” Carpenter, Chief Technology Advisor at SAP Africa, said.
He said no single organisation could solve it in isolation, especially when governments were poorly equipped and faced a deficit in skills, funds, and political will, which were compounded by the fact that the continent is made up of 54 culturally and geographically diverse countries.
“We must transcend historical geographical and organisational boundaries if we are to fulfil Africa’s promise,” Carpenter said.
Thus, he said, doctors, specialists, researchers, hospitals, clinics and the entire complex value network needed to be made more coherent and collaborative across both the public and private sectors.
“And the bedrock of this coherence is data: quality, shared and trusted data that is made available through effective and locally relevant
technology platforms. It goes without saying that this must be done securely, ethically and respecting the individual’s privacy.”
The expert pointed out networks were driving all facets of life.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution is digitising these vast human networks by reducing all the elements within the networks – and the interactions between different elements – into data sets that can be collected, analysed, and leveraged to gain insights that create value.
Technology companies such as Amazon, SAP Ariba, Facebook, SAP Concur and LinkedIn, and others have built networks to radically change the economics, utility, and convenience of life for many of the planet’s citizens.
“The healthcare industry now faces radical change and the opportunity for exponential improvement if it can leverage its own networks by using technology,” Carpenter said.
Nonetheless, in the African context, there are technological limitations with more developed markets such as South Africa, smartphone penetration being a lowly 40 percent.
While this is likely to improve as the technology becomes more affordable and pervasive, any technology-supported healthcare initiative must accommodate a lack of smartphone access.
Carpenter said while the digital transformation of the African continent picked up speed, new opportunities to improve the lives of all its citizens emerged.
“It is important that we start with a solid foundation – or network – that can integrate the various components of the healthcare value chain, and deliver actionable insights and information to on-the-ground

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