African healthcare providers are gradually recognising the convenience and cost benefits of adopting patient portals integrating financial and clinical data, according to Frost & Sullivan, giving a boost to a number of startups operating in the e-health sector.
In its Patient Portals in Africa analysis, Frost & Sullivan said healthcare providers were realising such services offered easy and secure access to patient data, while also reducing cost of care and eliminating penalties such as readmissions.
The report did, however, say that while healthcare providers and payers in Africa understand the value of patient portals, they do not yet perceive any urgent need to implement them. It does however expect further uptake in the future.
“The ability of patient portals’ to optimise the operational and financial efficiency of healthcare providers and payers by leveraging time-saving technologies is a key purchasing factor,” said Frost & Sullivan healthcare research analyst Saravanan Thangaraj.
“Further, it can ease some of the tedious and monotonous administrative, as well as data-entry, tasks that consume hospital resources. Patient portals also eliminate the need for additional staff and postage by enabling patients to perform functions online.”
Currently, substitute technologies such as mobile applications and telemedicine have outstripped patient portals in popularity, but the company believes this may change in due course, while mobile applications overshadowed by applications that employ both mobile and web-based portals.
“The ubiquity of technology has stoked the use of online services and therefore, has fostered an environment that is ideal for the promotion of patient portals,” said Thangaraj.
Startups serving healthcare have become increasingly common in Africa recently. Disrupt Africa reported on the launch of CenHealth in South Africa, which claims to have launched the most advanced public health record system in the country and is promising a number of new features as 2015 progresses.
Another South African startup – Medishare – is building a vertical professional network for the country’s doctors and other healthcare professionals, looking to provide a time-efficient way for individuals in the sector to share reports and other information.
Also in South Africa, SmartPrac, which provides cloud-based electronic health record and practice management software, is plotting expansion to Namibia and Zimbabwe after self-funding itself to a solid level of uptake.
Meanwhile, Ugandan health information app InstaHealth is aiming to become a pan-African and even global brand after rebranding from its previous incarnation as M-Tambula.