Attended by around 100 doctors and representatives of managed
care and health technology companies, BrandMED’s two-day
symposium in Sandton gave delegates an opportunity to gain first-hand
knowledge and experience on the fast-evolving world of healthcare delivery
through the use of technology. A full-service digital agency focused on
health-related brands, BrandMED’s aim is to help doctors, patients and brands connect
using effective, digital communication. The symposium, themed “Healthcare
Reimagined”, specifically addressed the use of evolving technology in the
management and treatment of non-communicable diseases (NCDs).

Prof Dion du Plessis set the scene with an
opening address effectively showcasing the rapidly evolving healthcare
environment. Technology is disrupting this sector at breakneck pace, with healthcare
professionals needing to in Prof du Plessis words, “Adapt or Die”. Real-time
patient info, a hybrid workforce, telemedicine and personalised medication
based on genetic modelling are heading our way and will change the way patients
are cared for going forward, he emphasised.

In-depth clinical presentations on diabetes
management and inflammation/anti-inflammation in NCDs, by Profs Paul Rheeder
and Greg Tintinger respectively, gave the doctors in the audience some well-deserved
CPD points through University of Pretoria. Session 2 saw the human genome
unpacked by Prof Michael Pepper, who was followed by Dr Jaysen Knezovich who
presented on the topic of Pharmacogenomics in clinical practice. The ability to
personalise medicine through targeted medication based on individual genetics
is a game-changer going forward, promising to medicate individuals more
accurately, ultimately resulting in better outcomes. Prof Morgan Chetty
completed the session with an ethical discussion on the implementation of genetic,
taking into account patient engagement, which is often complicated when the
patient is a child.

After the lunch break, it was time to delve
into the world of BrandMED and its connected care products for both patients (Kardiofit) and doctors
(Kardiopro). The underlying theme was the collection, mining and management of
patient data to streamline and enhance the level of insight and ultimate care clinicians
offer their patients. With patients taking ownership of their own health
and with a multitude of home monitoring devices on the market, a solution like
the one offered by Kardiogroup is essential in keeping clinicians in the loop,
where the possibility of missed markers by patients is very real. With
technology increasingly being used to do assessments, it allows clinicians to
spend more quality time with patients to discuss their conditions, and
treatment and management options, while empowering patients to adhere to
medication and monitoring protocols.

The final session of the day featured
presentations by Prof De Wet Swanepoel on digital hearing solutions, while Dr
Costa Kapnius dissected the balancing sympathetic and parasympathetic function
in fine detail. The theme of personalised treatments was continued by Dr Evette
Venter, this time within the nutritional assessments’ arena. The digital
revolution in healthcare is evident everywhere, and Dr Jessica Trusler
illustrated this within the laboratory and pathology services environment.

Guest speakers at the gala dinner included of
Cipla CEO, Paul Miller, Prof Du Plessis and self-confessed mad man, adventurer
and motivational speaker, David Grier. BrandMED CEO, Dr Riaz Motara and his team
put on a banquet fit for a king, with BrandMED Chief Commercial Officer, Peter
Russell, controlling proceedings in an entertaining style.

The last day of the symposium included a
presentation by well-known cardiologist and academic, Prof James Ker who reiterated
the theme of patient empowerment through home monitoring. Interesting point was
the positive effect this has on patients’ propensity to adhere to treatment
regimes. Dr Motara shed light on the future of family practice with some
interesting research on current patient/doctor issues, and solutions to these
issues with a focus of patient-centricity. Data is the new currency and with
data analysis the future practice can identify weak spots and take corrective
measures. In Dr Motara’s own words, “Embrace the change to overcome the fear of
change and enable true practice transformation”.

The final presentation was delivered by
Momentum’s Margot Brews, who gave a view on a funders’ approach to outcome- and
value-based care, focusing on the continuing trend of increased costs and
larger co-payments for patients. A completely unsustainable situation has
evolved requiring urgent intervention to ensure that South Africans can
continue to get access to world-class healthcare, or at least those fortunate
enough to be able to afford medical cover.

Shifting care away from hospitals and back
into GP-based primary care is something that needs to happen to rapidly
decrease the 37% of total healthcare spend that goes to hospitals. Incentivised
healthy behaviour is obviously a focus and again rings true to the theme of the
conference with patients taking ownership of their health and home-based care reducing
the burden on the sector.