Viewpoint: Embracing Digital Healthcare in Kenya
Tuesday, January 10, 2017
The digital revolution is upon us. Over the years we have seen technology become embedded across many industries ranging from banking, telecommunications, retail, insurance and even Government. Kenya is no stranger to this digital revolution, with mobile money platforms allowing those who were previously financially disenfranchised access to financial services.
Kenya’s embrace of technology can also be seen in the public sector, with e-government helping provide access to services previously burdened by laborious manual processes and red tape. Kenyans will know the most infamous among these processes previously included getting a new national ID or driver’s licence.
Digital healthcare, particularly in developing economies, has been slower in the uptake of the technology revolution. In an industry that discourages all but the most prudent, high-return investments, the numerous benefits that digital technology can provide to the quality of patient care and reduced costs over the long term are at risk of being overlooked.
In Kenya, the health agenda has focused on disease-centred programmes; maternal and child health, HIV, malaria, tuberculosis and immunisation. These diseases account for an overwhelming majority of deaths in the country. Unfortunately this comes at the expense of broader health system strengthening programmes such as infrastructure, financing, medical equipment and digital health. As a result, developing countries have invested and built strong vertical programmes targeting specific diseases, but very few have invested in strengthening systems for health as a whole.