Most people are familiar with the problems facing the health sector in Sub-Saharan Africa faces: poor infrastructure, a shortage of healthcare workers, a lack of capacity in the existing workforce and substandard quality to name a few. These problems, coupled with inadequate public sector spending on health, have pushed the private sector to the front in the development of the African health sector.
The climate for private sector health investment in
Other countries have taken advantage of similar challenges and pioneered healthcare models that leverage new technologies and are well suited to the needs of the population. In
The healthcare market is large and diverse, with a value chain comprised of manufacturers, health service providers, retailers, distributors, health ?nancing entities, and medical education providers, retailers, distributors, health financing entities, and medical education providers. The entire value chain is in need of investment but thus far investors have been focused primarily on opportunities that can deliver compelling ?nancial returns; namely health service providers, retailers, and ?nancing entities. In
The increased penetration of HMOs is also changing the current healthcare ?nancing landscape, as the ?xed tariffs they impose create a strain on the margins that can be realised by hospitals and clinics. As a result, smaller healthcare providers are ?nding it increasingly dif?cult to manage their resources judiciously while delivering quality care. Such challenges present an opportunity to invest in sustainable mechanisms that can integrate health care providers and improve outcomes for patients. Primary care may just be that mechanism.
Primary care can create value for both providers and patients if it can leverage on a large enough population and an associated network of diagnostic capabilities and specialist input. Primary care in
There are relatively few organisations that have realised the value in creating integrated networks and even fewer actively creating them in an organised manner. One of the key success factors of these healthcare networks is the level of integration between all participants. If all providers in a network can have access to the same clinical information about a patient, then integration is more likely to succeed. Coordinating the activities of all the different services and departments within a network of providers is only feasible if it relies on information technology that is tailored to their distinct needs.
Similarly to the recent African telecommunications boom, there is now the opportunity on the continent to leapfrog outdated healthcare technology. Developed economies face considerable hurdles in implementing new technology due to the high costs of overhauling existing infrastructure, dealing with vested interests and in?exible regulatory environments.
Investment in the healthcare market is still in its emerging phase and there exist various opportunities across the value chain. Investors interested in healthcare service provision will be well served by taking a long-term view of the market and extracting key lessons from the problems faced by developed economies. An integrated healthcare system supported by robust health information technology can provide continuity of care and keep its patient population healthy through primary care and preventative services. It will also be less likely to succumb to the inevitable ?nancial pressures caused by the increased prevalence of bundled payments and ?xed tariffs.
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