Telemedicine and digital health is still at an early stage in Nigeria and Africa compared to the rest of the world, Sesan Kareem Co-founder/CEO of HubCare Health has said .
He said most of the telemedicine platforms in Nigeria were less than five years old .
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He said , “Teladoc in US was founded in 2002 that is 20 years ago. Amwell in US was founded in 2006. Practo in India was founded in 2008. So, we still have so much opportunities and potential for innovation in the industry.”
However, he said many Nigerians were now more aware about the benefits of telemedicine and are gradually adopting it as a vehicle to affordable, quality healthcare because of convenience and easy access.
“I believe in the next three to five years, the rate of adoption of telemedicine will skyrocket across Africa giving patients the power to choose. With a very young population in the continent who are technology savvy, the next frontier for telemedicine in the world is Africa, and smart investors are looking to partner with health-tech company who have traction and offers something better in the market and are cost effective.
“After the breakthrough in Fintech in the continent, the next frontier to look out for in my opinion is telemedicine and other health-tech companies,” said Kareem who also serves as a board member of HAVEK Leadership Academy, Safe Medicines Foundation, Mareek Image Concepts and EMQ Trials Africa.
He said low cost disruptive innovation using technology and data would enable additional 60 million Africans access quality, affordable and reliable healthcare in the next 10 years.
He said some measures to put in place to achieve this include:
· The public and private sectors in the continent must work hand in hand to achieve the milestone. The governments and Ministries Department and Agencies (MDAs) across Africa must put in place laws guiding the adoption and utilization of technology in the health sector. In addition, the government at all levels must provide enabling environment, financial support, tax holidays and other incentives for health technology companies to blossom in the continent.
· Millions of Africans can access quality healthcare, talk with their doctors, order medicines and lab test using a mobile device. “We must utilize this smart phone penetration to reach the underserved in the continent when it comes to healthcare especially those who live in remote areas that hardly have access to healthcare facilities in their community,” he said.
Asked how the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) would pave way for affordable healthcare in Nigeria, he said , “Artificial intelligence is democratising different sectors of the economy using big data, machine learning and natural language processing to simplify solutions and help business leaders make informed decisions.
“In health space, the use of robotics in surgery in developed countries is increasing daily. Also, the use of artificial intelligence as a diagnostic tool and triage is on the rise, helping patient for pre-diagnosis and also enhances decision making for the healthcare providers. I believe artificial intelligence has enhanced the clinical experience for both patients and clinicians in the last 10 years. And the future is bright for healthcare across the world because of artificial intelligence.
“In particular, Nigeria is facing enormous challenges in healthcare such as inadequate healthcare professionals in the country, medication error and cost of care. Artificial intelligence can help us overcome these challenges. It can support healthcare professionals in terms of pre-diagnosis and triage, reduce medication error and lower the cost of care.”
He said HubCare is an Artificial Intelligence digital medicine platform that connects holistic primary care with patients.
“ It aims to serve the underserved patient population in Africa. Founded by two healthcare professionals and one product engineer, HubCare is using low-cost disruptive innovation to democratize healthcare for all Africans,” he said.