Regional Manager for Africa at Veeam, Claude Schuck, talks about how technology is changing how healthcare services are being delivered in Africa and the importance of having reliable access to data.

In the Always-On landscape, data has become the currency of doing business and differentiating oneself from competitors. But the reliance on having round-the-clock access – irrespective of device or location – is transcending industries, especially in the healthcare sector, where being connected can sometimes mean the difference between life and death.

The rise in telemedicine and other eHealth services has seen many developing countries across the continent embrace more innovative ways of providing quality and affordable care. Traditionally, people in rural communities had to face the challenge of travelling long distances to reach a clinic for much-needed medical care. And while this is still a way of life throughout Africa, technology has started changing how services are delivered.

For example, wearable technology offers live feedback on the wearer’s health that alerts medical staff and users to potential health risks before they become serious. Home scanners allow for self-diagnosis, helping to avoid a visit to the hospital for less serious ailments which means hospitals have a more accurate picture if a patient does require treatment.

Underpinning this is the critical need to have reliable access to data. According to the 2016 Veeam Availability Report, the average length for each incident of unplanned downtime of mission-critical applications is two hours, and for non-mission critical applications the average is five hours.

In a medical environment, the loss of data at a critical time becomes more than a financial argument – it becomes a very human one. Having downtime measured in hours and days is simply unacceptable. The availability of data is of paramount importance, and outages, when they do occur, must last mere seconds and minutes before data availability is restored.

In the healthcare sector, specific IT systems have to be always on, making data available around the clock. The human costs of a loss of data are too high for complacency to be allowed.

It is clear that technology has permeated all aspects of healthcare and has definitely changed it for the better. Ultimately, it is providing more opportunities to save lives. Even when new challenges emerge, the key is to ensure that data is not lost, so assistance can be provided wherever and whenever it is needed.

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