Royal Philips has released the South African results of the third annual Future Health Index (FHI). The study builds on data from people and healthcare professionals in 16 countries, representing about 50% of the world’s population, including South Africa.

The 2018 FHI introduces the Value Measure, a new indicator of the value delivered by healthcare systems of developed and developing markets. Combining criteria associated with healthcare efficiency, satisfaction and access to care, the Value Measure provides a benchmark against which system’s progress towards effective healthcare can be evaluated.

The report also includes the input from global healthcare experts and provides actionable insights for countries to improve the value that their health systems deliver.

According to the latest report, in line with many developing markets, such as Brazil, India and China, South Africa’s Value Measure is below the 16-country average. The low Value Measure of South Africa is due to below-average scores across all factors:

  • Access, in particular, low healthcare professional density and a large risk of impoverishing expenditure for surgical care, is most hindering value.
  • Overall satisfaction with the healthcare system is below average. South Africa’s general population has a stronger level of satisfaction compared with healthcare professionals (48% vs 31% respectively).
  • South Africa falls below the average when it comes to efficiency, as a result of above average healthcare spend as a percentage of GDP, while obtaining below average health outcomes.

“We believe that a value-based, rather than a volume-based approach to measuring health systems, is an important change in perspective to ensure we are having the right conversations around South Africa’s readiness to address healthcare challenges,” said CEO of Philips Africa, Jasper Westerink.

One of the most important findings from the 2018 FHI is that countries with a high Value Measure tend to exhibit high levels of connected care technology adoption. This indicates that integrating connected care technology into health systems can accelerate countries along the path to value-based healthcare.

South Africa lacks a universal health record, and both its data collection and data analytics scores fall below the 16-country average. While both the general population and healthcare professionals in South Africa see the importance of connected care technology in prevention (76% and 81%, respectively) and in population health overall (76% and 78% respectively), the technology is still perceived to be underutilised. In addition, South Africa’s current state of data collection and the small market sizes for AI indicate that there is room for further implementation of AI tools in healthcare.

“This is an opportunity for public and private sector alike to come together to bridge these value gaps, and ensure improved, and sustainable quality care across the region,” said Westerink.

“And to realise a healthier future, we need to look beyond the healthcare space. For instance, we need to bring more secure servers, and higher internet speeds into the region to ultimately deliver efficient care,” concluded Westerink.

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