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Technology impact: How business of healthcare will remain resilient in face of disruption

For decades, preparing for technological innovations change felt like waiting for a shooting star to hit: Sure, it could happen. Using a multi- sector stakeholders approach, Ernst and Young (EY) Healthcare has engaged health professionals to brainstorm on innovative ways to build and raise issues on how to better and make healthcare delivery more sustainable in the country.

Meanwhile, the global health landscape is changing radically in breakthrough technologies; new sciences and integrated design based solutions are driving fundamental change in healthcare delivery. If we bring this home today, Nigeria reports a healthcare spend of $16.5 billion 80 percent of which is private spend, mostly out of pocket.

On this leverage, these experts during the webinar held recently themed ‘Disruption, convergence and the healthcare sector of tomorrow’ aim to harvest solutions that will drive Nigeria’s healthcare forward and encourage new technology innovations, collaboration, and create connections between investors, development partners, government agencies, other stakeholders and start-ups to transform its service delivery.

Tosin Oshinubi, director, Consulting, EY West Africa in his opinion said, to remain resilient and relevant amidst the disruption, healthcare providers need to optimize current business models without compromising on the quality of patient care by leveraging data and technology.

There’s the need for a massive shift in the delivery of health services underpinned by the right levels of investment in digital and technology putting the patients at the centre of the delivery model

Oshinubi noted that there are five main forces driving the disruption and convergence we are seeing in the healthcare sector and they include; increasing healthcare spend, rise of super consumers, disruptive role of digital or technology, emergence of non-traditional players in the field of healthcare and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Addressing the role of increased connectivity and data collaboration for players, providers and pharmaceutical value chains in Nigeria, Tito Ovia Co-founder/Head of Growth, Helium Health said data in the Sub-Saharan African healthcare market has been neglected which is one of the reasons why our healthcare systems have not been able to grow in scale as they have in other markets.

According to her, healthcare data in the African market is “Gold” and a key driver for growth and development in the healthcare sector.

“A big problem is that our government does not have current insights into what goes on in our healthcare system due to the absence of data and information. There is no adequate planning and budgeting for the healthcare system which leaves healthcare stagnant. We can’t expect someone to want to invest in something they don’t have insight or overview into.

“We can start putting frameworks in place to develop a healthcare information exchange that connects the key players in the healthcare ecosystem (pharmacy, hospital, patients) in order to build connectivity and insights at the different entry points.

“ Unfortunately, we are not there yet, but we are in a unique position, as Nigeria, to be able to put in this framework for data and technology to be able to leapfrog a lot of the challenges that the western countries are currently facing because they didn’t do that initially and everything is sort of fragmentized,” said Ovia.

On his part, Olufemi Alabi, partner and Leader Transaction Advisory Services, EY West Africa emphasising the factors critical in realizing the desired healthcare sector of tomorrow said the availability of long-term capital is very essential noting that the programs promoted by Central bank of Nigeria (CBN) and Bank of Industry (BOI) are good initiatives.

“Banks have also been advised to raise health care focus bonds to avail longer term finance options. The collaboration and partnership amongst stakeholders is also very important in the growth of the sectors. Potential mergers also need to be explored in this regard,” he said.

Alabi added that the use of technology is critical, healthcare providers should consider using technology to improve service offerings like telemedicine.

“A tier-based system modelled after the financial services sector should be designed for healthcare practitioners. In this framework minimum capital requirements would be set for specific healthcare providers to support the availability of sufficient capital for quality healthcare service delivery,” he said.

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