Johannesburg - Medicine will look and be practised differently in the future.
Already, digital health and, in particular, artificial intelligence are changing doctors' jobs.
In the not-too-distant future, patients will be at the centre of the healthcare system, with care and management delivered on a "platform", rather than face to face.
Digitisation in the medical realm is set to create a "patient-centric healthcare system", according to Ryan Noach, deputy CEO of Discovery Health medical scheme.
Speaking at a two-day Digital Disruption and Innovation conference, hosted at the Gordon Institute of Business Science (Gibs) in Johannesburg from September 12 to 13, Noach said innovation and change management were key factors in improved and digitised healthcare.
"A more patient-centric approach would be characterised by symmetry of information, coordination of care and efficient care pathways within the healthcare sector," he said.
"Patients should be at the centre of the healthcare system, which means they must be fully informed, empowered and actively involved in decision-making relating to their condition and treatment plans.
"Patients should have easy access to reliable information sources, and care should be coordinated around the patient's needs.
"This is relative to a fragmented delivery model that exists in most healthcare systems around the world," explained Noach.
"With a massive and rising investment in digital healthcare innovation, almost 50% of all Discovery Health members' consultations with general practitioners utilise HealthID, which provides doctors with a more complete view of a patient's health history and test results."
Discovery Health incorporates digital disruption into its clients' lives by using data-driven optimisation and digital product design by providing virtual care and innovation, and by engagement through technology and personalised care digital platforms.
The digital products include wearables in the form of a smart watch that can monitor a patient's heart rate and blood pressure; a non-physical patient-doctor consultation; and a telemetry app that allows people with diabetes to take their blood glucose level - the reading is recorded from the monitor to their health record, which health professionals can also access to monitor progress.
"Artificial intelligence is changing medical healthcare tremendously through supporting doctors in treatment decisions, through crowdsourced medical data collection and through drug discovery and its efficacy in radiology," said Noach.
Discovery Health has launched a new digital healthcare and consultation app called DrConnect.
Patients can use it to ask a trusted doctor for medical advice - at any time and from anywhere.
The app also comes with personalised tips, checklists tailored to each patient to help them meet their health goals and the means to book a virtual consultation with their doctor.
"Any registered doctor may use DrConnect, which is completely integrated into HealthID for doctors on the web and on their tablets," said Noach.
"At this stage, we have about 300 doctors, who we recruited for our pilot phase, on the platform.
"Doctors are not paid to be on the platform, but they may submit claims to the Discovery Health medical scheme for formal virtual consultations which, if accompanied by a clinical note, are paid by the medical scheme at an agreed tariff, according the member's plan benefits entitlement."
Noach equated digital disruption with "simplicity, a user-centric experience, robust data security, the championing of digital integration and the assessment of market readiness".
Digital disruption has also left an indelible mark in the banking sector.
Standard Bank has made strides in the digitisation of its services through creating apps and launching new products, its most recent one being Purple - a disruptive engagement model allowing entrepreneurs and accountants to co-create a digitised banking experience that makes a difference in their businesses.
At the Gibs conference, Khomotso Molabe, executive and head of digital banking, moonshots and ecommerce at Standard Bank Group, said: "At Standard Bank, we think about innovation in a particular way."
He said the bank used "the 70, 20, 10 rule", which is quantified as follows:
- 70% is apportioned for innovation within the bank to stay in business;
- 20% is set aside for a radical approach in the drive to be a leader in the banking game; and
- 10% rides on disruption for the purpose of bringing change to banking.
"When a client requests a bank statement, there isn't always an actual human being on the other end. Our systems use sophisticated robot technology," he said.
He referred to Standard Bank's "moonshots approach" as a way of taking a "big problem" and employing a "disruptive solution" and "technology" to resolve it.
In response to the #FeesMustFall campaign, which highlighted the student fee crisis, Standard Bank introduced Feenix in June.
A crowdfunding facility that's usable on cellphones, Feenix allows cash-strapped students to register on the platform and ask potential donors for assistance.
"Standard Bank facilitates the funds between the students, universities and donors," said Molabe.
Another demonstration of the bank's "moonshots approach" was its launch in January of the award-winning Shyft mobile app.
A global digital wallet for Android and iOS, Shyft enables the bank's clients to conduct international transactions from their smartphones.
Shyft can be used whenever a client needs to buy, spend or send funds in US and Australian dollars, pounds or euros.
Standard Bank relished the benefits of digitised banking, said Molabe.
Alluding to the bank's strong profits from interim results for the first half of this year, despite tough economic conditions, he attributed its success to rigorous innovation and digitisation.
"Digitisation is at the core of our financial success. In January, we had 500 000 clients on our mobile app.
"By the end of last month, the number had grown to 850 000. Clients are adopting our solutions because we help them solve their problems using their cellphones."
Standard Bank recognises that, to prepare for the future, it needs to shift the entire organisation from solving banking problems to solving clients' lifestyle problems using the moonshots approach.