Last week, the World Health Summit took place in Berlin. Participants from over 100 countries came to present, debate, network and work on improving healthcare across the planet.
DoctorDial fits well into this ambition, so we were glad we were invited to come and speak about our vision for health tech in Africa and DoctorDial as part of it.
Watch the presentation video here:
The World Health Summit was really well organized. The speakers list was a who-is-who in health. The wide mix of presenters reached from health ministers to professors, pharma CEOs, tech influencers, development agencies, and last but not least, startups. The setup featured speeches as well as panel discussions and workshops, while extensive breaks and dinners left enough time for networking. High admission fees combined with a high number of global stipends led to a great audience of young and experienced health shapers from all over the planet.
It was great to see that both Digital and Africa were highly present at the conference. A lot of insights on how technology can disrupt research, patient care, and disease prevention came from pharmaceuticals as much as from tech companies, startups, or health organizations.
A vision was around: A future where Africa is leading in the solutions for its problems. And a future in which different stakeholders collaborate on a much deeper level than today to make technology-facilitated change happen - be it in the topic of health records, customized medicine, or African Development. You could see it in the chosen topics and what speakers were saying. And you could beautifully see it in (panel) discussions: Whenever there was someone telling stories of how things didn't work in Africa, there was immediately someone to emphasize the potential for technology leapfrogging across the continent; and that there is actually strong initiative working towards this.
The vision is out there and people at the forefront can see it. How it will come to reality? Only time can tell.
At DoctorDial, we believe in the potential of eHealth for Africa. A central platform for health record and identification/verification has been talked about a lot, and the benefits in Africa could be much higher than in developed parts of the world. A whole bunch of services and apps can leverage on that, be it ePharmacy, emergency lines, chronic disease management, blood donations distribution, and much more.
Yet we know that this requires a much deeper level of collaboration between stakeholders. The next level of technology disruption cannot be done by Silicon Valley alone. And the next level of health in Africa cannot come from only development agencies with focus on governments as their "customers". Government needs to not just understand private initiative and entrepreneurship, but guide, enable and empower it. Development agencies need to give access to knowledge more than to means. Technology companies need to foster ecosystems in which their technology is used by entrepreneurs and initiatives for the specific needs they are tackling. And entrepreneurs need to look beyond just competing, and cooperate with established players to get their solutions to a wide scale.
Most stakeholders are aware of this. And yet it takes a lot to get there. It all means change and it means getting out of our own comfort zones. Being more vulnerable. That´s not cozy. But it has been done. Africa has a long history of courage. Just imagine what would be possible when this became true. Let´s make it happen together.
DoctorDial as a health platform and telemedicine app and service is a big step. It allows patients to call or (video) chat with a doctor from the convenience of their home at affordable rates. Insurances and doctors like us for financial reasons. Patients like us, because they get access to the right doctor as needed - no matter where they live. For rural areas, we want to train 10,000 healthcare providers who can use our technology to better serve their patients - so that they can remotely invite a specialist doctor while investigations, treatment and patient care are done locally. While our pilots are typically done in-house, the larger scale will come through the right partnerships with pharmaceutical companies, development agencies, and government; also hopefully soon an Artificial Intelligence provider. Trying to leverage on what´s out there as much as we can.
We´re glad that Bayer Foundation offered us to be featured in the book "The Beauty of Impact" which then enabled us to speak at the summit.
I am really excited to work on this. Looking forward to seeing some of it in action - and with it hopefully one of the next World Health Summits!