Updated 22 November 2017

You may think you are healthy but your Doctor disagrees

According to the Future Health Index, only 33% of healthcare professionals believe the overall health of South Africa is positive.


Royal Philips, a global leader in health technology, recently released the South African results of the second annual Future Health Index (FHI). The study builds on data from over 33 000 participants in 19 countries, and advisory input from leading academic and global non-profit organisations.

Local findings signal that South Africans generally evaluate their health positively, with the majority (80%) of the population rating their current health as good, very good or excellent, while healthcare professionals are less optimistic. Just one third (33%) of healthcare professionals agree that the overall health of the population in South Africa is positive.

However, despite the discrepancy between the South African general population’s and healthcare professionals’ perception of health, the results suggest that both groups perceive they have more access to healthcare than the system is set up for in reality, which signals that there is an opportunity to improve access to care further.

Where there are distinct gaps between reality and perception, it is harder to design a clear plan for future development.

There is a call for greater integration globally, as the study reveals clearly that the largest perception/reality gap globally is centred on health systems integration, which also aligns to local findings. “The general population often have a perception that healthcare is integrated, and people only find that the integration is not there once they are a patient in the system,” says Jasper Westerink, CEO of Philips Africa.

The general South African population and healthcare professionals believe that connected care technology would make healthcare more expensive in the long term. In order to increase the likelihood of use of connected care technology, training opportunities, informational resources such as databases of available technologies, and government subsidies to manage cost concerns may be needed to improve health systems at a tertiary level.

“Despite these barriers, the potential for global health systems to benefit from better integration remains a positive possibility, while the large local gaps indicate ample room for growth,” says Westerink.

The 2017 FHI highlights that it is important not only to adapt healthcare delivery across different healthcare systems, but in the meantime to address the differences between the perceptions of users of the health system and the reality of how well the system is set up for the future in South Africa.

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