Craig Comrie, CEO of medical scheme Profmed
During the pandemic, the healthcare sector in South Africa was under severe pressure. This was a time in which all sectors had to embrace technology. For healthcare, this time of lockdowns and digital evolution prompted the advent of home-based healthcare and other tech-driven evolutions.
Home-based care provides patients with the opportunity to heal in an environment they’re comfortable in and familiar with, but this would not be possible without the right technological integrations.
Technology aided the acceleration of this approach. There is an understanding that technology drives up the cost of healthcare. We had to find smart ways to reduce the cost of healthcare. This included diagnostics and monitoring of patient vital signs as well as remote app-based wellness tools.
Technology truly allows healthcare professionals such as nurses or doctors to monitor a patient’s vital signs and information while flagging areas of concern and treatment plans.
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Home-based care presents unique benefits to patients. This treatment system avoids secondary hospital-acquired infections, reducing infection rates. Patients also have family support, which often means that patients recuperate better. A home-based treatment also significantly cuts down large hospital bills.
Many complicated or long-term hospital costs arise due to secondary infections acquired at in hospital. Most of those should be treated in hospitals but can be treated at home. Infusions and drips are already being administrated at home, and this usually halves the cost of the procedure.
Medical schemes are now starting to incorporate products in line with home-based care. Our product is called ‘Healing@Home’, and we are rolling this out in 2023. Perhaps long term, we will see more home-based care being entrenched into new benefits and scheme packages in an effort to bring down costs.
In many instances, Healing@home is simply a better way of healing. There is less risk attached and that brings down the cost for medical schemes and members. However, not all diseases can be treated at home. It is also important to note that the tech that enables home-based care cannot replace doctors and other healthcare professions.
This is not a new treatment but a process which allows members and doctors the choice of treating in a different venue. This process must be carefully managed to establish protocols and have our clinical advisory teams look very closely at it before they approve specific treatment so that you receive your healing at-home.
I wholeheartedly believes that education combined with technology are the key to both saving lives and saving money. The healthcare system should continue to embrace these advancements to better cater to people by not only caring for them but by making quality healthcare more affordable and accessible.