LIVE FROM GSMA-mHA MOBILE HEALTH SUMMIT 2011: Chris Ross, Managing Executive for Commercial Development at Vodacom South Africa, highlighted the role of the mobile operator as a key enabling partner in the m-health ecosystem, noting that: “We are an enabler. We don’t purport to be the medical profession, but we underpin the activities that the medical profession takes part in.”
Ross noted that the availability of mobile networks makes this an ideal platform for the delivery of health services, especially where there are numerous barriers to healthcare provision – “what is taken for granted in the Northern Hemisphere is often not available in a country like South Africa,” he observed. In emerging markets, medical providers are faced with hugely dispersed populations, a shortage of health workers, and a lack of fixed line communications infrastructure. In addition, the illness profile is also different, for example with communicable diseases providing a “far more significant” cause of death.
In his presentation this morning, in addition to highlighting the access to customers that mobile operators can provide, Ross noted the ability to offer the healthcare industry a managed network solution: “we let the medical profession get on with the things that they are good at, and we focus on the technology that underpins that,” he said.