Health & Fitness

New trends a shot in the arm for Kenya healthcare sector

nurse

Summary

  • Apple CEO Tim Cook has announced that the legacy project for the tech giant will be a foray into the realm of healthcare to provide primary healthcare services.
  • Similarly, the retail giants Walmart and Amazon have announced their entry into primary healthcare - service provision.

Healthcare service delivery is pivotal and is amenable to innovation. These innovative approaches mostly aim at increasing access to high quality healthcare services to a populace. In the US, tech giants have taken note of the immense opportunities in the healthcare industry.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has announced that the legacy project for the tech giant will be a foray into the realm of healthcare to provide primary healthcare services.

Similarly, the retail giants Walmart and Amazon have announced their entry into primary healthcare - service provision after learning key entry lessons from their programmes, providing clinical care to their huge workforce.

In Kenya, the trends are similarly exciting. There is a rallying push to advance the Universal Health Coverage agenda with which interesting public as well as private healthcare service delivery trends are shaping up.

Traditionally, our healthcare system, as is in many other countries, has been divided into levels. The community is the first level, then primary care services followed by secondary care and finally tertiary care. Across these tiers, various innovative approaches are shaping up.

In the community and primary care levels, technology in healthcare is beginning to open up exciting frontiers in telemedicine, which has been bolstered by emerging dynamics of the Covid-19 pandemic.

We’ve witnessed the burgeoning of innovative start-ups such as Helium Health, Ponea Health, Vezeeta and Sasa Daktari that use remote platforms, including mobile telephony to provide doctors’ consultations to the citizenry.

We’ve also seen brands like MyDawa and IkoDawa that provide servicing of prescriptions through mobile phone applications.

In the secondary and tertiary care levels, we are beginning to see an entry of new models of healthcare service delivery as well. New entrants have emerged such as Equity Afia, a network under Equity Group Foundation.

AAR, which has traditionally been an insurance and outpatient services provider, is setting up a 100-bed tertiary facility in Nairobi.

We’re also seeing a rise in private equity firms that are heavily investing in hospitals with some shifting focus from the traditionally ‘large towns’ to the ‘smaller towns’.

In the public sector, devolved units are investing heavily in improving healthcare infrastructure through renovations and scaling up.

Certainly, these advances are poised to increase geographic access to healthcare services.

Equally, it will necessitate a focus on delivering high-quality care through increased competition. This growth will also set Kenya apart among emerging countries as a progressive healthcare system.

However, it is incumbent on policy makers to ensure that there is a congruent growth in financial access to these healthcare services as well as creating an enabling environment for investments in the healthcare service delivery eco-system.