To construct the health ecosystem of the future, we must first listen to the main users of this system – people and healthcare professionals – and understand their expectations and experiences. This is according to the 2017 Future Health Index (FHI). Second, we must investigate how technology is already transforming lives in different health systems around the world and how it can empower society even further.
The study explores how people’s perceptions match the realities of healthcare. If we are to reshape the future, it is vital to address gaps between what exists and what is desired. And to better understand how to deliver the right information and tools, in the right time and place, to maximise impact in health experiences and outcomes.
Key findings of the FHI revealed that in both the access and integration areas, SA’s perceptions do not align with the realities of the health system. However, this gap between perception and reality is much smaller in the adoption space:
Access to healthcare
PERCEPTION: South Africans and healthcare professionals believe that the general population have access to a majority of the phases across the continuum. At least half of the general population and healthcare professionals alike believe they have access to preventative care, diagnosis, treatments, and healthy living. However, the overall perception of access was dragged down by fewer respondents believing they had access to resources for home care (general population: 49% and healthcare professionals: 36%).
REALITY: SA’s sub-index score was significantly lower than average due to a lack of skilled health professionals in relation to the size of the population and a higher than average risk of impoverishing expenditure for surgical care.
Integration of health systems
PERCEPTION: South Africans and healthcare professionals do not feel that health system is integrated. However, a majority of both South Africans (75%) and healthcare professionals (83%) believe integration is important to healthcare. Additionally, both groups believe in the improvement of the quality of care via integration (72% of general population and 84% of healthcare professionals).
REALITY: SA’s reality score was driven down by low services-related expenditures on Internet of Things (IoT) in healthcare services as a percentage of GDP compared to other countries, showing significant room for growth if investments are made.
Adoption of connected care technology
PERCEPTION: 66% of healthcare professionals believe they are knowledgeable about connected care technologies, just 37% of South Africans feel the same. Additionally, healthcare professionals and the general population do not generally believe that connected care technology is being used across the health continuum.
REALITY: SA’s reality score for adoption is dragged down by lower spending on Internet of Things (IoT) hardware in healthcare as a percentage of GDP in comparison to other countries.
When it comes to health expenditure compared to the health of the population SA’s efficiency ratio is the lowest of the 19 countries included in the study (4.4 compared with 10.5 on average) indicating considerable inefficiencies. This score is a result of average healthcare spend as a percentage of GDP and considerably below average health outcomes.