Healthbridge was invited to Africa Health 2018 Exhibition and Conference as a thought leader to discuss the role of big data within South African healthcare and the importance and shortfall of its value.
Africa Health is the largest event of its kind on the continent for international and local companies to meet, network and do business with the ever-growing African healthcare market. The event, which took place 29 to 31 May 2018 at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand, Johannesburg attracted more than 10,100 healthcare professionals and over 553 leading international and regional healthcare and pharmaceutical suppliers, manufacturers and service providers. The event also ran 16 CPD accredited conferences offering education on the latest medical and non-medical techniques, topics and trends.
The Healthcare Management conference, which took place on the first day of Africa Health, focused specifically on the digital health revolution and how it can deliver high quality care to every patient in Africa in a sustainably affordable way. Healthbridge’s Executive Managing Director, Luis da Silva, was invited by Professor Morgan Chetty, the CEO of the KwaZulu-Natal Managed Care Coalition Ltd and Chairman of the Independent Practitioners Association Foundation (IPAF), to present during the Data-driven Solutions session to highlight the importance of context in ensuring healthcare data is used in a meaningful and safe way.
During the 10 CPD points conference, da Silva explained how big data in healthcare is growing exponentially thanks to amazing advancements being made in consumer healthcare technology, such as wearables and smart watches. This technology, which is steadily becoming more affordable, is enabling users to record an array of health metrics, such as blood pressure and heart rate, in real-time. “This is an example of the immense explosion of data and capability and the digital disruption that is happening in healthcare right now,” said da Silva. “Tech powerhouses like Google are making insane investments in digital healthcare; last year alone Google spent more than $1.5bn and they bought 27 different health technology companies preparing for this wave.”
However, as da Silva pointed out, healthcare data in of itself is not enough because the context of the data is what makes it come alive. “If you just see one part of the data you don’t see the full story; you have to understand the full context of what you are looking at,” said da Silva.
da Silva went on to present three different case studies which demonstrated how the context around the data is important in avoiding the wrong conclusions. The case studies were based on real-world examples of how Healthbridge empowers their clients with confidential and powerful information that can be used by the different parties involved, whether it is the patients, healthcare providers or medical aids, to initiate insightful discussions to bring about important healthcare practice improvements.
“If you don’t have the context then data by itself can be quite dangerous and misleading. You also need to have the right legal mandates to be able to look at this information, because anonymity and confidentiality are key to protecting the patient, the doctor or the scheme,” said da Silva.
da Silva added that data symmetry between the parties having the discussion is also essential. “Data needs to be shared between the discussing parties in order to ensure that they have a powerful conversation and can add the context that is required.”
“And lastly, context, legal mandates, anonymity and data symmetry have all got one precursor, and that is trust. All the promises of big data will never happen if there isn’t trust between the different parties, be it the patient, the doctor, the medical aid, the hospital or even the government. Trust is absolutely key before the benefits of data with context can be derived,” concluded da Silva.