Royal Philips has released the results of its inaugural Future Health Index (FHI), an extensive international study which provides a benchmark for a country’s perceived readiness to embrace the benefits of connected digital health systems.

According to Philips, FHI’s findings offer valuable insights into the perceived state of readiness of markets around the world to benefit from integration across healthcare systems.

In addition, the FHI identifies significant areas where healthcare systems must transform to deliver value-based care in the future by examining the perceptions, behaviours and attitudes of both patients and healthcare professionals.

The FHI survey focused on access to healthcare, integration of the current health system and adoption of connected health technology and systems to help countries become better poised to meet current and future healthcare challenges.

South Africa received an overall score of 56.7 out of a possible 100, ranking it eighth out of thirteen countries surveyed. The results of the survey highlight the need for a more concerted effort to increase access to healthcare, and conversely indicate a stable performance on healthcare integration, and above average performance on connected care technology adoption, said Philips in a statement.

Key findings from the FHI study showed that both healthcare providers and patients note improving access to healthcare services as something the government should prioritise to improve public health. However, they differed on the effectiveness of the health system in meeting the needs of the population, particularly when patients compared the public and private systems.

Furthermore, the survey also indicated that the cost of healthcare was a significant barrier or patients and is significantly higher than any other market, including other emerging markets. 47% of patients who have not visited a doctor when they needed to indicated that they could not afford to do so.

When surveying cardiology patients, the results revealed that those patients were more knowledgeable about connected care technology, suggesting an opportunity to use technology to improve these patients’ outcomes and experiences.

Patients with cardiology-related issues are more likely to use a medical device to track their own health indicators.

The majority of healthcare workers agree that integrated health can improve the health of South Africa’s population in a variety of situations, including when patients are being treated, diagnosed or using health systems for treatments that will prevent medical conditions from occurring.

Openness to connected care technologies raises South Africa’s connected care technology adoption sub-index score above the average.

“The Future Health Index has uncovered a number of significant areas where our healthcare system must transform if we are going to succeed in delivering long-term value-based care,” said CEO of Philips South & Southern Africa, Ntutule Tshenye.

“It is encouraging to see South Africa starting from a reasonably strong position in its readiness to adopt connected digital technologies that will ultimately drive transformation. The outcome of the South African report provides valuable insight for patients, healthcare providers and policymakers on where attention needs to be focused to increase levels of access, integration and adoption of health technology to improve healthcare outcomes and patient experience in the long term,” continued Tshenye.

The FHI study was conducted in partnership with an independent global market research firm in Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Japan, The Netherlands, Singapore, South Africa, Sweden, UAE, UK and US. More than 2,600 healthcare providers and 25,000 patients were questioned.

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