Africa suffers more than 24% of the global disease burden, has access to only 3% of the health workers from around the world and the lowest doctor to patient ratio of all the world’s regions. As a result, African patients often have to travel extensively to seek medical services, which is costly and time consuming. Technology presents an opportunity to overcome some of these structural problems.
HealthTech or digital health, uses technology (databases, applications, mobiles, wearables) to improve the delivery, payment, and/or consumption of care, with the ability to increase the development and commercialisation of medicinal products.
Globally, HealthTech startups are building technical infrastructure from scratch and innovating solutions in a sector that has been slow to evolve over the years. The model is similar to those that have been observed in the fintech sector in Africa, where technology helps to bridge the gap between the lack of services and client needs.
HealthTech connects patients to their healthcare providers online without the need for either party to move from their location, it allows for seamless referral to other healthcare providers online, prescribing of medication, health insurance, etc.
African HealthTech startups are on the rise, in 2017 only $19 million of roughly $1 billion tech investment had gone into the sector, according Briter Bridges and Partech data. In July this year the accelerator Founders Factory Africa and healthcare company Netcare announced a new partnership aimed at building and scaling 35 HealthTech startups across Africa. Additionally, Nigerian genomics startup 54gene, raised $4.5 million earlier this year, in seed capital, six months after it was established. The funding raised is a record amount for seed funding in a Nigerian HealthTech company.
We believe that digital transformation – enabled by radically interoperable data, artificial intelligence, and open, secure platforms – will continue to drive change in healthcare on the continent. Unlike the present situation, the future of care will be organised around the consumer, rather than around the institutions that drive the existing health care system. Entrepreneurs are best placed to take advantage of the business opportunities and deliver the required services.