Philips, a global leader in health technology, explores how healthcare leaders are harnessing the power of data and digital technology as they look to address the key challenges coming out of the pandemic.
Philips’ Future Health Index (FHI) 2022 report* paints a picture of a sector that has seen a dramatic transformation in recent years, which has accelerated rapidly over the past 12 months. Rather than continuing to focus solely on the pandemic, today’s healthcare leaders are radically shifting their priorities to meet new realities in medical management by focusing on people first – and South Africa is no different.
Speaking at the launch of the report in Johannesburg at the beginning of November, Philips South Africa MD Romulen Pillay said the 2022 report reflects a resetting of priorities and of care delivery itself, as healthcare leaders reprioritise care fundamentals to change care to the way it should be: accessible, reliable, and efficient.
The FHI 2022 South Africa report highlighted three top priority areas for the country’s healthcare leaders as they strive to further expand access to care and improve patient outcomes.
Improving experiences to retain staff
Employee well-being and retention are at the top of the agenda for healthcare leaders to counter growing staff shortages. In South Africa today, the number of leaders prioritising improving staff satisfaction and retention (34%) has increased sharply from 2021 (24%) and is higher than the global average of 30%.
“With the sector facing a significant labour shortfall of 15 million healthcare workers by 2030, improving the staff experience has become a top priority for today’s leaders. The 2022 report has shown that South African leaders are most hopeful about the benefits that predictive analytics could bring to the staff experience (59%) and health inequality (59%), while 56% trust it could make population health management more efficient,” said Pillay. “However, improving the staff experience is just one piece of the puzzle – fixing the labour crisis in the long term will ultimately depend on the successful coordination of governments, regulators, and the industry as a whole to improve working conditions across the board.”
Focusing on internal expertise to unlock the power of data
As South African healthcare leaders struggle with staff shortages and limited technology infrastructure, they are identifying ways to overcome these obstacles and maximise the data available to them. In South Africa, one of the main ways leaders believe they can improve data utilisation is by increasing staff expertise in this area. With just 4% of leaders believing they have all the capabilities they need internally, hiring data specialists (24%) and training current staff on data utilisation (20%) feature prominently among South African healthcare leaders’ top means of improving data usage.
Investment in, and adoption of, artificial intelligence (AI) and predictive technology to deliver on AI’s true potential
While there is a massive disparity in investment in AI (87%), current adoption levels of predictive analytics in South Africa (12%) are significantly lower than the global average (24%).
As more organisations reap the rewards of machine-generated insights in both clinical and operational settings – such as enhanced decision-making and lowered administrative burdens – an increased demand for peer-to-peer mentorships between early and late adopters is expected. Alongside strategic partnerships with health technology companies, this should bring the whole sector up to speed.
“All things considered, our sector has taken stock and reprioritised in the wake of another year of transformations, and against a growing backdrop of complex challenges that will endure far beyond the pandemic,” noted Pillay. “Ultimately, we see healthcare leaders embarking on a reset to meet the demands of a fundamentally changed world – a world they hope to shape and improve with the help of data and predictive analytics,” he added.
* Since 2016, Philips has conducted original research to help determine the readiness of countries to address global health challenges and build efficient and effective health systems. The Philips Future Health Index 2022 report is based on proprietary research from almost 3 000 respondents, conducted across 15 countries.