A massive proportion the healthcare spend  goes towards brick and mortar facilities and servicing the overheads rather than going towards the things that make the patient better, Dr Vuyane Mhlomi, founding director of digital healthcare enterprise, Quro Health, reminded his audience during last week’s SA Health Industry Summit.

“A fraction of the cost goes towards the provider, a fraction of the cost goes towards pathology and radiology and medicine,” Mhlomi, a UCT MBChB graduate, Rhodes Scholar and Oxford MBA graduate, explained.

“In many ways the cost of delivery of health care in the patient’s home can sometimes be cheaper than the provision of health care in public health care facilities, but it’s very, very difficult for people to start thinking outside of that because of how we have a propensity to think of healthcare around hospitals

“Problem with our system,” Mhlomi elaborated, “is that it is hospicentric. With patients, for example, the first thing that they talk about (when taking ill) is ‘I need to go to a hospital’ as opposed to ‘I need to access healthcare’. However there are great limitations, infrastructure limitations, and limitations around human resources and being able to see every single patient,” he added, a reality that prompted his creation of a digitally-based enabling facility to treat patients at home.

 “So what we did was to really start thinking about how do we start shifting the patient away from where there’s the greatest health care spend and only focus on the essential elements of in-hospital care – bringing those to the patients’ home by creating an environment in which we could provide hospital care.

“Many studies published before we even embarked on this mission,” he noted, “demonstrated that by simply shifting patients from traditional hospitals into the home reduces healthcare costs by 52%.”

Funding home care was obviously an obligatory consideration, but this, Mhlomi assured, had already been addressed by associates being able to reconfigure existing funding  infrastructure and reimbursement models to meet the new need: “And of course working with different providers and other stakeholders within the healthcare system to enable this has really allowed us to not only decompress those busy healthcare facilities but to also reach patients some of whom were already in desperate need of care.

“For us the greatest beneficiary of that particular health care delivery model,” he stressed,”  “is the public sector patient. We have already been demonstrating this model within the private sector, but we are racing towards the provision of these services to all our people.”

This, he indicated, was actually in line with global trends at the moment, citing a recent study by McKinsey which had shown that about US$265 billion worth of health care services were shifting towards the home: “And if you look at what’s happening in the NHS in the UK, more and more care is moving away from traditional brick and mortar facilities and going to the home.”