Last month the World Health Organization reported that non-communicable diseases (NCDs) kill 38 million people each year. Many NCDs — primarily heart disease, diabetes, pulmonary diseases and cancer – are preventable or curable with appropriate medical intervention and ongoing care.
For people in rural areas, particularly in developing countries, this is a huge challenge. Despite rapid urbanization worldwide, 50 percent of people globally still live in rural areas while less than 25 percent of doctors reside there.
Some countries are tackling the problem with healthcare innovations backed by collaborations with technology providers like SAP.
In Mexico, Previta is a growing social business committed to “revolutionize the health system” by offering preventative services for chronic illness like diabetes, hypertension and obesity. This year Previta will conduct at least 40,000 examinations and check on those individuals’ conditions. With software donated by SAP through its corporate social responsibility programs, Previta can spend more time providing these critical services and less on administrative tasks.
Recognizing that many Mexican citizens live far from urban centers, Previta has created a “health train” that offers mobile care clinics across the countryside. In addition, the company has developed a digital healthcare tracking-system that continues monitoring patients; and call centers staffed by medical professionals who provide advice remotely.
According to Christian Guerra, Co-Founder and Chief Commercial Officer of Previta, “We are trying to change the way chronic disease patients have been treated. The mission of the health train, and everything Previta does, is to save lives.”
Another example is in Kenya, where about 1.4 million live births occurred yearly from 2005 to 2010. However, only half of these births were registered because registration offices are few and far apart. According to Professor Jan Eloff, a research expert at the SAP Innovation Center in Pretoria, South Africa, “SAP’s challenge was to develop a simple mobile birth registration application prototype. This app is making it easier for a healthcare provider, with the help of a mobile phone, to register the birth of any child within 90 days.”
SAP has co-innovated with the Kenyan government to create an SAP HANA cloud-based mobile solution that makes registration easier, allowing public agencies to monitor individuals’ health and anticipate community or regional healthcare needs.
Regions such as Africa and Mexico are fast growing technology markets. Igor Fermin, a healthcare expert for SAP Mexico, says, “SAP is committed to global growth around the world, But for sustainable growth we need health nations and healthy people. In Latin America, and other rural areas, we’re at an inflection point. We need to improve equity, better fund care and improve healthcare outcomes – and can help do that with technology.”
Digitization is transforming every industry, and health care is no exception. With technology partners like SAP providing innovations such as cloud, mobile, and Big Data, people can get regular access to health care, wherever they live. Places without existing technology infrastructure can collaborate to create digital healthcare systems from the ground up. Not only can this revolutionize healthcare in rural areas, but also serve as a shining example of what’s possible in developed economies worldwide.