De belofte van de digitale gezondheidszorg

BASEL – Afrika is opmerkelijk veranderd, en in positieve zin, sinds ik er twintig jaar geleden voor het eerst als arts ging werken in Angola. Maar de grootste verandering is de manier waarop het continent mobiele technologie heeft omarmd. De mensen in Afrika – en in alle lage- en middeninkomenslanden – grijpen de kansen aan die technologie hen biedt, en gebruiken mobiele telefoons voor van alles en nog wat, van het doen van betalingen tot het uitgeven van geboortecertificaten en het verkrijgen van toegang tot gezondheidszorg.

Het voordeel van mobiele technologieën is gelegen in de toegang die zij bieden. Hindernissen als geografische afstand en weinig middelen, die lange tijd hebben voorkomen dat miljarden mensen de zorg kregen die zij nodig hadden, zijn in het digitale tijdperk veel makkelijker te overwinnen. En inderdaad, er zijn talloze manieren waarop technologie kan worden ingezet om de toegang tot de gezondheidszorg te verbeteren.

Dit is uiteraard geen nieuwe informatie, en een toenemend aantal op technologie gebaseerde gezondheidszorginitiatieven heeft de afgelopen jaren vorm gekregen. Maar slechts een paar daarvan hebben schaalomvang en duurzaamheid op de langere termijn bereikt; de meerderheid van de projecten is niet verder gekomen dan de pilot-fase. Het gevolg hiervan is een zeer gefragmenteerd landschap van digitale oplossingen – dat in sommige gevallen extra druk kan zetten op de bestaande gezondheidszorgsystemen.

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