Date: 09 Februrary 2016
Time: 20:30 – 21:30 (SAST / GMT +02)
Moderator: Vanessa Carter
An overview of eHealth in South Africa
When I mention health care TweetChat to medical professionals in South Africa, I’m often met with looks of confusion. A general perception is that Twitter and the rest of social media was never designed for a critical application like medicine. The laws that govern health care are too rigid to survive on open platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
Most medical professionals still believe that it is unprofessional to advertise their services and rely on referrals or networks. The truth is, working in isolation is causing far –greater damage to the health system.
A key passage in the Hippocratic Oath is “I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.”
The next generation of the internet is coming. Some refer to it as web 3.0 and others call it the Internet of Things (IoT). Big data will be generated from different sources ranging from connected devices to social platforms, then stored centrally to improve collective analytics. Currently, South Africa are not able to meet the prevention clause in the Hippocratic Oath for many reasons, some obvious factors relate to administration, funding and a shortage of health care workers. Health IT could improve these issues, reduce cost and provide data which empowers a patient with the educational tools to improve preventative behavior.
How could health care Tweetchats play a role?
TweetChats take place on Twitter, and used globally to discuss issues which are related to eHealth comprehensively. Because of the unique tools that Twitter offers, it has the ability to bring together diverse thought-leaders to a virtual boardroom which enables them to share their views, gain insight and grow their networks. In the past, a disconnected world made meetings costly to orchestrate which left many issues unresolved.
To capture quality data we need to design user-friendly experiences and understand the demographic needs for it to be effective. Quality interaction equals quality data. In terms of precision medicine, capturing quality data is vital to redesigning treatments such as new generation antibiotics or Cancer therapies.
Who should attend a health care TweetChat?
Anyone working in the health sector that would like to learn more about digital health such as doctors, scientists, nurses, patients, entrepreneurs, start-ups, I.T developers, marketing companies, journalists, midwives, pharmacists, therapists, politicians, non-profits, caregivers and associations both local or global.
“eHealth, where to now for South Africa?”
The digital revolution is transforming healthcare globally and yet so many health care workers are still unfamiliar with the term. In short, the next version of the internet is coming. This version will utilize technology called artificial intelligence. Sounds scary for some, but it’s quite simple. It’s a software platform that uses data to empower users with predictive analytics. We will explore this more in future chats.
The internet is segmented by it’s growth. Web 1.0 is your basic search engine and website. Web 2.0 technology is user-generated and interactive, for example, social media. The next version, web 3.0 is “everything connected”. Hard to imagine, but it’s real, and it’s coming sooner than you think. The relevance to healthcare is the data that will accumulate from every wearable and device, social, cultural, environmental and physical source, some of these are already being captured on your smartphone.
There have been many concerns in South Africa regarding health care in the past which affected the level of investment into the sector, specifically the public area. Many have raised concerns about issues in terms of digital literacy, language barriers, health literacy and connectivity which may be problematic to eHealth. How can we redesign the system in web 3.0 to address all of these issues?
If you are in the medical field and have been following the digital revolution, then you are already one step ahead in terms of understanding the magnitude of change on the way and how important it is that South Africa acts now.Technology will rapidly continue to transform health care globally in the next few years. South Africa need to adapt their digital mindset to ensure that we stay aligned.
T1: In your opinion, what are the issues currently hindering the effective implementation of digital health in South Africa?
T2: What can we do to encourage investment into the health sector?
Examples might include public innovation, entrepreneurship, education, marketing strategies, corporate involvement and volunteering.
T3: What do you think the outcome will be in our health sector if we are not aligned to international standards of eHealth?
CT (Closing Thoughts): Is there anything you would like to add to this discussion?
Web 3.0 and the Internet of Things explained simply:
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