Health & Fitness

Tech disruption looms in healthcare business

 human-like robot
‘Sophia’ an artificially intelligent human-like robot developed by Hong Kong-based humanoid robotics company. PHOTO | AFP 

Helsinki’s Omena Hotel is as strange as they come. Interesting for those who appreciate what technology and novel business operations augur for the future of hospitality and customer service. Does efficiency rank higher to “personal care?”

The hotel offers quite a comfortable abode, albeit a strange one if used to Kenyan hotels — there are no visible concierge, security guards, reception staff nor cleaning staff. Yet everything works. The hotel is super clean and you have to eat elsewhere.

Booking is online, entrance and access are via a time locked security code. Any extra services requested are done digitally — most likely outsourced.

The second firm is an online bookseller. Here, one orders for a book which is then delivered 24 hours later.

The difference is that the book is printed on order, shipping is by client’s selection. The entire outfit could be run by a few people bypassing the conventional book sales, wholesaler bookshop model.


In 2019, my sleepy town of Oloitokitok woke up to the entry of matatus in an erstwhile Probox-dominated rural commute. The new entrants have slashed the fares by half. A two-kilometre ride that previously cost Sh100 is now Sh50, a Sh400 ride is now Sh200.

Across these three business models, the recurrent theme is the emerging reorganisation of business approaches.

They all have two things in common — efficiency and disruption. Will the same happen in the health sector?

While for a long time our industry has been protected from mainstream business trends and operated in inefficient systems, rising costs and patient as well payer demands necessitates a shift in our business operation models.

For one, the emerging theme of business aggregators and the use of technology or artificial intelligence (AI) for optimising business processes is with us.

How long the matatu era lives before taxi-hailing apps Mondo, Uber, Little and Taxify move in to reorganise it, only time can tell.

Specifically for the health industry, three areas of concern are fragmentation, duplicity and redundancy.

In one corner an oversupply exists while in others an undersupply and overpricing are common. What AI and technology bring is the ‘God’ viewpoint.

By knowing both the supply and demand needs and matching them at the same time, it attempts to solve all three problems at the same time.

For the next generation of health entrepreneurs, embracing the role linked and connected technology plays in efficiency is crucial.

Business process outsourcing could see tech or AI, rationally and intelligently measure skills, apportion labour with patient-doctor- outcomes complexity analytics for better results.

More importantly though is on the economic angle that has been missing. How do you determine the cost of care with Big Data to bring parity among providers and equity to payers?

The future of business analytics and AI is here with us. Let’s embrace it.