Medical technology and digital innovation come under the spotlight during the third day of the Hospital Association of South Africa (HASA) 2018 Conference.

The conference, which took place at the Forum, The Campus, in Johannesburg from Monday 1 October to Wednesday 3 October 2018, brought together local and international speakers who presented on a number of topics including National Health Insurance (NHI) and the impact of digital health.

During his presentation on ‘The digital future of healthcare’, President-elect of the South African Heart Association and prominent cardiologist, Dr David Jankelow, outlined the dizzying array of digital and technological developments underway, from Artificial Intelligence (AI) to telemedicine. Dr Jankelow ended his talk by making an impassioned plea that those digital innovations that found a sustainable and effective role in the delivery of healthcare should be made available to all the citizens of the country.

While Founder of Hello Doctor, Dr Michael Mol, pointed out that while many developments in digital health would play a key role in delivering healthcare, it was important to continue to work with the innovations that were already in existence, particularly with the cellular telephone that has achieved significant penetration amongst the South African population.

Dr Mol noted that it was also important to recognise that many people would prefer to have a medically skilled person involved in their treatment and that telephone services with a medically skilled person on the other end of the line enjoyed higher adoption rates once people took the first step in participating in a consultation on the telephone with a doctor.

Dr Dan Gordon from Canadian-based Colleaga spoke about Health Information Exchanges (HIE) that were increasingly becoming prominent in healthcare systems around the world and through which medical professionals and institutions were linking up to share information to ensure healthcare is delivered optimally and efficiently and at as low a cost as possible. The challenge, he pointed out, was to overcome a competitive bias that currently exists between various stakeholders to instead create a platform to share skills and knowledge to ensure patients receive the best care possible, delivered by interconnected professionals and system that shared experiences and information.

Digital entrepreneur, Dr William Mapham closed off the conference with an account of his award winning medical referral app, Vula Mobile. The professional medical network is designed to directly connect health workers in remote and under-served areas to medical and surgical specialists.

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