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  • HELINA wants papers for its October conference

    In the lead up to its conference in Nairobi on 1 to 5 October 2018, Health Informatics in Africa (HELINA) has released its timetable for its call for papers. It’s:

    Paper submission deadline: 30 April, using the online systemNotification of paper acceptance: 15 JulyPapers ready for publication: 15th September.

    Submissions have to comply with the Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts to Biomedical Journals. There’s a help line for support.

    The main conference themes are:

    National and regional eHealth strategies and policiesInteroperabilityQuality, continuous quality improvement and using health data and systemsHuman capacity building for eHealthApplying technology in supply chain managementSustainable ICT solutions for health service deliveryTechnology-enabled health financing.

    There’s a host of other topics too:

    Health facility management information systemsPHR information systemsHIEIoT and wearablesPoint of care information management solutionsHealth informatics standardsMobile healthHealth financing information managementHealthcare research informaticsHealth systems M&EDecision support systems for low resource settingsBiomedical devices integrationMedical imaging and radiology information systemsLaboratory information systemsPharmacy management information systemsData mining and Big Data analyticsAI and machine learning.

    This considerable, attractive array offers a strategic profile for Africa’s health systems. It’d be goo to see cyber-security added.

  • Why blockchain may be the future of healthcare

    The blockchain revolution has made its way to the healthcare industry.  If you haven’t heard about it yet, blockchain is a distributed system which records and stores transaction records.  Think of it as a database which stores information.  The main difference is that the data is located in a network of personal computers called nodes where there is no central administrator, such as a government or bank controlling the data.

    On permission-less blockchains, all parties can view all records. On permissioned blockchains, privacy can be maintained by agreement about which parties can view which transactions and where, masking the identity of the party. 

    Blockchain principles were first applied in the financial world as the technology that allowed Bitcoin to operate.  It has applications for many industries and more promisingly for healthcare. 

    This disruptive innovation would be able to solve many of the issues that plague healthcare today, while enjoying unprecedented security benefits because records are spread across a network of replicated databases that are always in sync.  

    A common database of health information can facilitate better sharing of research and evidence-based practices.  It would allow healthcare professionals to access patient records no matter what electronic record system they used and,  even improve supply chain management to prevent resource deficits.

    Blockchain won’t be a cure-all for the industry today, but it would certainly be a step in the right direction. 

  • Virtual reality better than pain killers?

    So we’ve heard how virtual reality (VR) can enhance our social lives. Now we’re going to discuss the medical benefits of the technology. Particularly in pain management.  VR has is being studied for its potential to ease pain by serving as a distracting force during medical procedures like wound care sessions for burn victims. Already, studies and papers on the subject have provided evidence that VR can lessen the sensation of pain, both chronic and acute. 

    While VR is a promising, drug-free option for pain treatment, existing VR systems are expensive and use unconvincing graphics. However, recent advances can allow the development of more realistic and more cost-effective applications. These include;

    improved realismimmersion using 360-degree 3D technologymore affordable delivery systems

    Applied VR, a company in Los Angeles, is already capitalising on these advances. The company is working with hospitals and doctors to get patients using the technology on Samsung’s Gear VR headset and to study its effectiveness as well.   So far, the company has created three different virtual-reality pain applications, as well as one for reducing anxiety.

    Not so far in the future, your doctor might prescribe VR sessions to ease aches and pains, rather than popping a pill.  The greatest challenge it faces right now is finding software developers who want to make applications that target specific medical problems.  Perhaps this is an opportunity for African start-ups looking to innovate in the eHealth space this year.

  • ISfTeH International Conference prepares to set sail

    Organising conferences is seldom plain sailing. ISfTeH hopes its’ event will be. This year's ISfTeH International Conference theme’s eHealth2018 - Health Communities Facing Cyber Transformation event. It’s aboard a cruise ship on the Baltic Sea between Helsinki, Finland and Stockholm, Sweden, on 15 to 17 March 2018.The Finnish Society of Telemedicine and eHealth.is the organiser.

    Presenters include representatives from:

    ·      Finnish Heart Association·      European Commission·      Cancer Society·      Karolinska Institute·      Finnish Coast Guard·      European Network of Living Labs. The event should be both intellectually and meteorologically bracing. A long-range weather forecast hints at Baltic’s temperatures below 10oC, with winds of about 50kph from the North West.

     

  • mHealth sigue expandiéndose, pero África y Sudamérica están detrás

    El mercado de mHealth ha estado creciendo constantemente y se mantendrá. En su informe “mHealth App Economics 2017 Current Status and Future Trends in Mobile Health”, Research2Guidance (R2G), una empresa de asesoramiento de estrategia e investigación de mercado, evalúa cómo los intrusos digitales se están apropiando del mercado de la salud.

    Este año, hay 325,000 aplicaciones de salud y acondicionamiento físico disponibles en todas las principales tiendas de aplicaciones. Son 78,000 más que el año pasado.

    La mayoría de los profesionales de eHealth vienen de Europa, 47% y 36% de los EE. UU., Un 83% combinado. Asia-Pacífico representa el 11%. Sudamérica y África están en el 4% y 2% respectivamente, lo que confirma la necesidad de un mayor desarrollo de capacidad humana. 

    Otros hallazgos incluyen:

    Android adelanta a Apple en los números de aplicaciones de salud84,000 editores de aplicaciones de salud lanzan aplicacionesAmpliación de la demanda y la brecha de oferta, con un alto número de desarrolladores y bajas tasas de crecimiento de las descargasInversión de US $ 5.4bn en empresas de eSalud que abastecen al mercadoLos usuarios descargarán aproximadamente 3.6bn de aplicaciones en 201718% no está desarrollando aplicaciones de salud debido a regulaciones inciertas53% de los profesionales de eHealth esperan que los seguros de salud sean el canal de distribución futuro con el mejor potencial de mercado. 

    Dos tipos de aplicaciones pueden tener un gran impacto en la atención médica. La Inteligencia Artificial (IA) es vista como la tecnología más disruptiva. Se considera que la combinación con el monitoreo remoto es la tecnología que más perturbará la atención médica. El perfil: 

    AI 61% Monitoreo remota y asistencia 43% Wearables 34% IoT 30% Realidad virtual e inteligencia 27% Impresión 3D 22% Blockchain 18% 5G 8% Otro 5%. 

    Parece que hay una oportunidad para que los sistemas de salud de África respalden y amplíen su oferta de aplicaciones de salud local.

  • A portal doesn’t improve US hospital outcomes

    As the internet and web have spread across healthcare, portals have been seen as an essential link between patients and clinical teams. It seems they don’t make any difference to hospital outcomes. A study at Mayo Clinic Hospital, Jacksonville, published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association (JAMIA), found the 30-day re-admissions, inpatient mortality and 30-day mortality rates were virtually the same for hospital patients who used portals without prompting and those who didn’t have accounts to use them. The 30-day rates were adjusted for Lengths of Stay (LOS).

    Interpreting the results needs to incorporate the limitations of the portal. It has no specific features for communication between patients and healthcare teams. It only includes admission notes, operative notes, consultations and laboratory studies in real time. Daily progress notes can’t be viewed, and there’s a 72-hour delay in viewing radiology and pathology reports. There’s no educational material about patient-specific diseases and processes.

    Patients with portal accounts seem to drop their access on admission. About 44% of patients who had a portal account when they were admitted, but fewer than half, about 21%, accessed it when they were inpatients. Other studies have found similar results, such as 34% and 23%. For tertiary services, the rates were 25% and 16%.

     of registered users accessed their account.22 The lack of features designed specifically for inpatient use was previously emphasised in a systematic review.14 Consequently, several medical centres designed hospital-specific applications aimed at improving the use and usability of inpatient portals.23–25 In a realistic review, Roberts indicated that patient participation with inpatient health information technology (including patient portals) can be augmented by interactive learning focused on information sharing, self-assessment and feedback, tailored education, user-centred design, and user support. Outpatients with severe diseases use portals more frequently. 

    Patients who access portals have better outcomes for some chronic conditions such as: 

    ·             Diabetes, with lower haemoglobin (HbA1c) after 6 months

    ·             Hypertension, with improved blood pressure control at 12 months)

    ·             Depression management, with increased medication adherence

    ·             Preventative care, such as up-to-date immunisations and mammograms. 

    Portals can have benefits. African health systems need to be explicit about what their portals can achieve and ensure that these are maximised.

  • South Africa’s mHealth has opportunities and bigger barriers

    Much has been made of the growth in mobile phones and their opportunities for Africans’ better health. A qualitative study in Science Direct found that there may not be a high positive correlation. It says while mobile phones have been evolving to fill South Africa’s primary care services gaps, there are barriers to access. Poor digital infrastructure and low digital literacy are two main longstanding inhibitors. 

    The study investigated mobile phone use by a wide range of people. It included patients with chronic diseases, pregnant women and health workers in Mpumalanga, South Africa. In 2014, semi-structured in-depth interviews were completed with 113 patients and 43 health workers from seven primary healthcare clinics and a district hospital.

    Some health workers and patients used their own mobile phones for healthcare, bearing the cost themselves, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) initiatives. Patients used their mobile phones to remind themselves to take medication or attend clinic visits. They appreciated receiving voice call reminders.

    Some patients and health workers accessed websites and used social media to gather health information, but lacked web search strategies. Patients and health workers’ use of websites and social media was intermittent due to affordability constraints for airtime. Many didn’t know what to search for and where to search. 

    Doctors developed their own informal mobile health solutions for their work needs. It also overcomes resource constraints due to rurality. 

    Removing these seemingly unresponsive barriers needs investment in people and infrastructure. It’s a critical component of successful eHealth.

     

  • Technology’s healthcare transformation is core

    As their name implies, the two fictional robot clans of transformers were good at it. For healthcare, it’s a constant, striving ambition. A health policy statement from the American College of Cardiology (ACC) sees it as relying on successful adoption of technological innovations in big data analytics, precision medicine and eHealth. Published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 2017 Roadmap for Innovation—ACC Health Policy Statement on Healthcare Transformation in the Era of Digital Health, Big Data, and Precision Health puts healthcare transformation as a product of a shared vision of a broad range of stakeholders. It has to establish healthcare delivery’s future and develop new patient-centred, evidence-driven models that reward value over volume.

    It sets out six steps that Africa’s health systems can adopt and adapt:

    Continuously engage a multidisciplinary group of stakeholders in an innovation collaborative to foster an understanding of how patient care guides the development and integration of new technologiesDrive patient-centric innovation by broadening patient access to health information, consumer empowerment and clinician activationSupport research into new innovations, including national and international academic activities, and incorporate rural and underserved populations in phases of device and precision-based clinical trialsDevelop a compact for human-centred design and a commitment to measuring the impact of new innovations on health, access, equity, costs, and outcomes through evidence generation and development of best practice modelsHarness the principles of evaluation, integration, patient and clinician engagement and measures of care efficiency as innovation platforms in an inclusive and iterative model to advance new technology development centred around factors important to patients, clinicians, and healthcare institutionsIdentify mile markers for innovation success, including new innovation groups to guide activities that represent types of clinician and professionals in training.

    These are rigorous activities. They can help Africa’s health systems move their eHealth services into a new phase with a firm strategic foundation.

     

     

  • Cisco’s umbrella can help deal with cyber-attacks

    Simple, open, automated and effective: these are the four cornerstones of Cisco Umbrella set out in its solution brief. Cisco sees its value in dealing with the complexity, range and reach of eHealth services. It’s continuously expanding, along with its cyber-security requirements and gaps. Available from Health IT Security, the brief sets out its functions as: 

    Covering gaps without any hardware to install or software to manually updateProtecting any device and every port without configuration changes or latencyExtending existing protection and incident response data through integrationsProtecting all devices, locations, and users on and off networksPredicting threats before they happen by learning where attacks are stagedBlocking malicious domains and IPs before connections are establishedStopping threats before they reach networks and endpointsIdentifying infected devices faster and preventing data exfiltration.

    Cisco recognises that cyber-security isn’t an absolute, 100% state. Its goals are to maximise prevention and achieve early, effective responses to cyber-attacks.  This is realistic, and offers an option for Africa’s eHealth.

  • EHRs can be more efficient, with better quality

    Better efficiency and quality are two main eHealth benefit groups. They don’t stand alone. Benefits in one group can lead to benefits in the other. Imprivata  emphasises two lessons in its white paper, available from EHR Intelligence.  Saving time, improving care Two lessons to remember when integrating a new EHR sees efficiency gains liberating resources for better quality. 

    Its proposition’s that clinicians can waste 13 seconds waiting unnecessarily with the time they log into EHRs. Aggregating these across all clinicians’ logins can create a valuable chunk of their time, about 13,000 hours a week for a typical hospital. On this scale, clinicians’’ time, can be redeployed to improving health care quality. This simple arithmetic looks appealing, but it’s consistent with an EHR challenge of redeploying each clinician’s small time savings and efficiency gains. It’s an essential, but not an easy activity. 

    Three important findings from a study by American EHR illustrate the difficulties:

    42% of professionals who found it difficult to improve efficiency with EHRs72% found it difficult to decrease workload with EHRs54% said EHRs increased total operating costs.

    These confirm the need for eHealth to be highly usable. It’s a prerequisite for benefit realisation. 

    Imprivata suggests early types of EHRs incorporate these constraints. Modern versions can overcome them, and more benefits will result. It points Africa’s health systems to the need to test the efficiency and performance of EHRs that they’re considering in their procurements. Better EHRs offer better benefits. It looks encouraging for Africa’s healthcare.

  • Some employees can be a cyber-security threat

    Uncomfortable as it may be, Imperva says employees are the greatest cyber-security risk. They may be careless, become compromised or have malicious intent, and their trusted access to data can expose organisations. 

    An Imperva blog proposes the action needed to minimise the risk.7 Steps to Protect Your Data From Insider Threats are: 

    Discover and classify sensitive dataMonitor all user access to dataDefine and enforce organisational policiesLeverage advances in artificial intelligence detectUse interactive analytics tools to investigate security incidentsQuarantine risky usersGenerate reports to document security events.

    These aren’t proposed as absolute solutions. Imperva offers them as a guide to help detect and contain insider threats. Perhaps the most modern feature’s using machine learning to uncover unknown threats. It can sift through massive amounts of detailed data access logs so security teams can establish behavioural baselines of users’ access to data and rapidly identify changes, inappropriate or abusive data access. Drilling down’s more manageable. 

    The seven steps provide a framework for Africa’s eHealth cyber-security. Applying them needs resources, especially skilled people to manage and operate the process.

  • US ONC mission: to IOp and beyond!

    Buzz Lightyear, a Toy Story celebrity and star, saw his environment extending “To infinity, and beyond.” The US Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) sees interoperability (IOp) having an equivalent horizon. In an interview with EHRIntelligence, Genevieve Morris, ONC’s Principal Deputy National Coordinator, says the emergence of new technology and data sets means that IOP extends beyond a conventional EHR-to-EHR connectivity, which is becoming  an IOp  foundation.

    Extending IOp into genomic data and all other data needed for precision medicine’s ONC;s goal. They’re different data sets to mainstream healthcare data in EHRs. Learning health systems comprise totally integrated healthcare environments where IOp takes on a new and expanded meaning. This is a concept embedded in the ONCs’ updated healthcare IOp roadmap reported by eHNA. 

    While IOp and beyond may seem like a leap into the unknown, ONC’s approach’s pragmatic and incremental. It includes underlying standards and technical components needed for medical device integration and patient-generated health data. 

    Provenance’s an example. It identifies people and devices that create data elements and specifies when and where. This meets healthcare providers’ needs to know who and where data comes from as part of clinical data exchanged between EHRs.

    Africa’s IOp strategies and initiatives need to stretch out into these extra territories. It’s a continuous commitment to skills, resources and finance. EHRs are a start, not an end.

  • India’s patient and personal information data's been hacked

    Wide-ranging, Interoperable (IOp) eHealth depends on effective, secure Unique Patient Identifiers (UPI). India’s extending Aadhaar, its national identity number, as the UPI for healthcare. The Tribune has a report saying it’s been hacked. Rs 500, 10 minutes, and you have access to billion Aadhaar details refers to the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), responsible for Aadhaar, claim in November that Aadhaar data for over a billion people’s fully safe and secure and there has been no data leak or breach.

    A Tribune employee paid Rs500, about US$8, for a service offered by anonymous sellers to provide unrestricted access to details for Aadhaar numbers. Contact was made over WhatsApp, and took ten minutes to complete. Data provided included a login ID and password for access to any Aadhaar number in the portal and access the data that individuals have submitted, including name, address, postal code, photo, phone number and email address. Another Rs300, almost US$5, bought software that can facilitate Aadhaar card printing by entering an Aadhaar number of any individual.

    The Tribune says IDAI officials in Chandigarh were shocked at the revelations. It’s classified as a major national security breach. It seems the breach was some six months ago. Anonymous groups were created on WhatsApp. They targeted over three unemployed Village-Level Enterprise (VLE) operators hired by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (ME&IT) under the Common Service Centres Scheme (CSCS). 

    CSCS operators produced Aadhaar cards. They lost their jobs when the service was restricted to post offices and designated banks to avoid security breaches. Initial illegal Aadhaar access was used to print and sell Aadhaar cards to low income villagers. Cyber-criminals have expanded the service.

    There are several lessons for Africa’s planned UPIs. Cyber-security should never be seen as safe. It required constant vigilance. Changes in personnel and providers always need corresponding changes in access rights and monitoring. These should be part of a rigorous cyber-security strategy.

  • Taiwan’s eHealth success has important lessons

    Health and healthcare challenges for Taiwan are being addressed with eHealth. Success with ageing populations and advanced eHealth has lessons for other countries. These were elicited with a qualitative methodology in 90-minute semi-structured interviews with 38 stakeholders, including focus groups. Published in the Journal for Medical Internet research (JMIR), their views are:

    eHealth can enable seamless patient careClinical benefits include flexibility in time managementLeaders’ visions, authority, and management skills might influence health care innovation successBoth internal and external organisational governance are relevant for implementing eHealth innovation in health care.

    A common thread across these is that eHealth helps healthcare teams to work smarter, not harder. This sits on Taiwan’s history of advanced medical and technological innovation. This’s an important aspect to reflect in assessing Taiwan’s lessons for Africa’s health systems. 

    Identified lessons include:

    Telehealth is essential, and how it’s used can make a differencePersonal information security must be addressed before designing eHealth care systemsWhen benefits can outweigh security concerns, these systems may become as popular as online banking and shoppingSecuring personal medical data should not be seen as an insurmountable problem that prevents telecare’s adoption and developmentElectronic data can be easily integrated with an existing HIS and can ultimately contribute to by decreasing financial burdensSystematic and integrated patient records can be developed to offer better health services, decrease diagnostic errors and ensure quality and cost-effective benefitseHealth’s a crucial tool for connecting people, not replacing themeHealth can help to bridge gaps in isolation between older and younger generations and rural and urban societiesClinicians were concerned about biometric data accuracy while they say they can collect more accurate data than hospitalsCost of adapting eHealth might initially pose challenges because of growth, but upgrading and renewal costs become more cost-effective in the long termUltimately, eHealth systems’ benefits will outweigh any potential problems in the long term. 

    These are encouraging insights for Africa’s eHealth. Affordability for Taiwan’s health systems may not be as challenging as Africa’s.

  • Oracle has a supply chain system for healthcare

    Effective logistics are essential for efficient and effective healthcare. Oracle aims to provide this by transforming healthcare’s supply chains. Its white paper from Fierce Markets set out the steps: 

    Better automation and analyticsTighter integration between all stakeholders, including end users, supply chain, distributors, suppliers and Group Purchasing Organisations(GPO)Increased emphasis on sound inventory management and demand planning. 

    Care and Cost Drive Healthcare Supply Chain Revolution says these can overcome four core challenges:

    Master data management, such as item pricing and trackingManual processes and multiple hand-offs between stakeholdersLegacy technologyA reactive instead of proactive approach.

    A general savings estimate, claimed as conservative is 3% to 5% of supply costs. These are achieved by enhanced strategic sourcing that can weed out supply chain redundancies. Actual savings depend on the levels of efficiency that healthcare providers have already achieved. Further gains may be from better re-order quantities and minimum and maximum ordering and stockholding levels. IoT solutions can help too.

    Oracle’s solution relies on a cloud service. For Africa’s health systems, it could be a big step forward. Better spending on drugs and medicines and avoiding counterfeits are high-value objectives. Improving their costs and availability has a direct impact on healthcare quality and efficiency. The Supply Chain Management System from Management Sciences for Health ( MSH) and operating across much of sub-Saharan Africa has insights in the impact.

  • Verizon sees a bright IoT future, but…

    eHealth strategies should have a prime place for IoT.  It’s role’s expanding, but there are still several challenges that need addressing. A report from Verizon Enterprise set these out. State of the Market: Internet of Things 2017 Making way for the enterprise says IoT’s taking hold in almost every industry. An example’s where pharmaceutical companies use them to track and trace medicines from production to patients. eHNA has another example. 

    What can Africa’s health systems expect from them? Verizon’s findings across economies are

    73% of executives are either researching or currently deploying IoT for the most important assets and processes 84% increase in IoT connections by manufacturers41% increase in transport and distribution industries40% increase in energy and utilities sectors19% increase in smart cities and communitiesIoT increases operational efficiencyImproved supply chain managementIt delivers unparalleled experiences to partners and customers.

    The big but’s that adoption’s slower than expected. Over 50% of executives say the reasons are a lack of:

    Industry-wide IoT standardsSecurityInteroperabilityAffordability.

    Both perspectives need to be included in eHealth strategies. Some of the inhibitors may be beyond health system’s direct control. Where they are, links to these initiatives need setting in place to monitor developments as part of investment plans.  One feature to keep on focus’s the changing supply side. Verizon says there are predictions of continuous market consolidation as larger providers acquire start-up and specialist IoT firms. 

  • Two bugs, Meltdown and Spectre, render your devices vulnerable

    An alarming start to eHealth’s New Year’s a claim by The Register that there are two bugs in chips used in the vast majority of computers and smart phones. It’s important for Africa’s eHealth vulnerability. It says severe design flaw in Intel microprocessors allows sensitive data, such as passwords and crypto-keys, to be stolen from memory.

    It seems that Intel's CPUs could allow applications, malware, and JavaScript running in web browsers to access confidential information in private, hidden memory areas. These zones often contain files cached from disk, a view onto the machine's entire physical memory. Intel's flaw’s called Meltdown. 

    Arm and AMD processors are affected too, but Meltdown doesn’t affect AMD processors. AMD says there its chips risk are near-zero. Arm has produced a list of its affected cores, typically in smartphones, tablets and other handheld devices. It links to a set of workaround patches for Linux systems. 

    Chips in desktop PCs, laptops, phones, fondleslabs and backend servers don’t completely walk back every step they take when they've taken a wrong path of code. Consequently, data remnants they shouldn't have been allowed to fetch remain in their temporary caches and can be accessed later. 

    Spectre allows apps to extract information from other processes running on the same system. It can be used by code to extract information from its own process too. AMD says its processors are practically immune to Variant 2 Spectre attacks. As for Variant 1, microcode updates or recompiled software’s needed. Google’s confident that ARM-powered Android devices running the latest security updates are protected due to measures already in place to thwart exploitation attempts, especially access to high-precision timers needed in attacks. The Register lists security patches, mitigations and updates for Google's products, including Chrome and ChromeOS. 

    It remains to be seen if the proposed fixes, patches and updates fix the vulnerabilities. It leaves Africa’s eHealth with a big headache in their current limbo.

  • eHealth's 'good to great' formula offers success for 2018

    Amit Ahlawat in his book, “Seven Ways to Sustained Happiness”, says, “New doors open up; we stop looking back, enjoy the present and start planning and prioritising for the future in an optimal and optimistic manner." Similarly, as the doors of 2018 have swung open, eHealth must look forward, carrying with it the wins and lessons from 2017 to plan for an optimistic future. So, what does this future look like?  More importantly, what are Africa’s  eHealth priorities in 2018?

    2017 left us with a whirlwind of eHealth innovation, some big wins and some great lessons. Over the past few days, every noteworthy eHealth blogger, author and fund have written about their insights for 2018. As a young voice in this industry, I’d like to share my eHealth predictions for the year ahead. 

    My infatuation with analytics leads me to my first prediction; 2017’s curiosity with BDdata will result in greater investment in analysing data and making it more useful in 2018. eHNA’s published several articles over the last two years around the need for predictive analytics and the applications of Machine Learning (ML) in Africa’s healthcare. Micromarket Monitor predicts a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of over 28% in predictive analytics investment in the Middle East and Africa by 2019.  Growth will be driven by the high penetration of new technologies in eHealth, rapidly increasing eHealth start-ups in Africa and the deluge of data they generate.

    Next, the rise in mHealth applications will swing more users towards Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD). While  it’s been a hot topic in 2017, Africa’s eHealth seems unconvinced by it. An eHNA article reported that over 90% of healthcare workers own a smart device. Barring security concerns, mHealth’s growing use in clinical decision support and healthcare delivery will propel government and organisations towards developing BYOD strategies. 

    Unsuspectingly, gamification may grab lots of attention this year. As healthcare moves away from a reactive to a proactive response, gamification may provide a large helping-hand in behaviour modification and awareness. It’s already created a sensation with Pokemon Go. Research suggests it improves physical and mental health.

    There’ll be many more predictions and events for Africa’s eHealth in 2018. The success of these will be underpinned by prioritising and investing in:

    Developing eHealth leadershipChange managementRisk managementCyber-security. 

    eHealth needs a unique type of leader with the right eHealth perspective, insight and skills to identify and maximise Africa’s eHealth opportunities. Without this, opportunities may not be seized. Acfee feels strongly about this and has put together a number of resources to develop eHealth leaders and champions.

    Change management’s vital for eHealth transformation. It helps stakeholders understand, commit to, accept and embrace the changes that eHealth brings with it. Prosci reports that projects with excellent change management are six times more likely to meet their objectives than projects with poor change management.

    Lastly, no endeavour is without risk. England’s WannaCry crisis and spambot Onliner are proof that eHealth and innovation will attract a fair amount of risk. 2017’s frenzy around cyber-security has taught us some valuable lessons. Lessons that need to carried into this year and strongly embedded into risk management protocols. For preparedness is no luxury, but a cost to eHealth’s progression and efforts.

    I look upon 2018 with great zeal and zest for the infinite opportunities that lie ahead. 2017 has shown that Africa has a promising eHealth future ahead of us, and the contributions you make as innovators, collaborators and visionaries can only strengthen it. I wish you all a prosperous new year and hope that you will remain in our readership as we unfold 2018’s innovations and breakthroughs.

  • How eHealth will support healthier Africans in 2018

    Contemplating my New Year's resolutions recently, I thought about Africa's eHealth journey over the last decade. It's moved from a largely disputed, nebulous term, to a fledgling industry with remarkable potential to transform our African health landscape. While eHealth is better understood now and showing some progress, the potential has not been translated into tangible African health benefits at scale.

    Numerous key issues need to be addressed. They constitute the contents page of many new National eHealth Strategies. An issue that is frequently underestimated though, is how to create better ways for the numerous eHealth stakeholder types to participate constructively. To be effective, this engagement needs to extend across a wide value chain, along timescales beyond most strategic plans. Only then, can it secure eHealth's role in achieving Healthy Africans.

    Improving engagement, building capacity and developing eHealth leaders is essential and why we created the African Centre for eHealth Excellence (Acfee). Our growing list of initiatives are starting to move this forward, such as the eHealth Network for Africa (eHNA) blog, the eHealthAFRO regional events, the African eHealth Forum including Acfee's Advisory Board of eminent African health advisers and the Acfee Awards for Outstanding eHealth Leadership. All these contribute to Acfee's work to collect data about Africa’s eHealth initiatives, engage African stakeholders, build capacity, develop eHealth's leaders and support countries’ national eHealth strategies.

    Acfee's 2018 plans include new contributions on strategy, leadership and curricula, guides on cyber-security, governance, regulation and impact, a much anticipated eHNA v5 release, and other technology assets that will provide our network of African eHealth experts with better tools to advance African eHealth. The successful eHA2017 in Johannesburg will continue annually. Additionally, eHA2018 will launch an East African event, in partnership with the East African Science and Technology Commission (EASTECO).

    Many hands make Acfee's work possible. Thank you for being part of this journey, whether you work with us, challenge us, or simply participate in an Acfee initiative. Together, 2018 will be the best Acfee chapter yet, for eHealth and for Healthy Africans.

  • What were the top ICT stories in 2017?

    Now 2017’s history, the significant ICT themes can be seen. A retrospective by Health IT Analytics found the top ten from its posts. They’re Big Data, Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources ( FHIR) and machine learning are included. They’re:

    Top 10 Challenges of Big Data Analytics in HealthcareTop 4 Machine Learning Use Cases for Healthcare ProvidersWhat is the Role of Natural Language Processing in Healthcare?Judy Faulkner: Epic is Changing the Big Data, Interoperability GameHow Healthcare can Prep for Artificial Intelligence, Machine LearningExploring the Use of Blockchain for EHRs, Healthcare Big DataHow Big Data Analytics Companies Support Value-Based HealthcareBasics to Know About the Role of FHIR in InteroperabilityData Mining, Big Data Analytics in Healthcare: what’s the Difference?Turning Healthcare Big Data into Actionable Clinical Intelligence. 

    It’s a valuable checklist for Africa’s health informatics and ICT professionals for there personal development plans. eHealth leaders can use it too to ensure their eHealth strategies either include initiatives for the top ten, or lay down the investigative and business case processes for future plans.