Sri Lanka to access quality health-care through IFC's global digital health platform

By Laxman Datt Pant

Sri Lanka to access quality health-care through IFC's global digital health platform

To develop, implement and finance the digital transformation strategies of healthcare organizations, on August 18, the International Finance Corporation (IFC) announced it would start a new upstream initiative, the Global Digital Health Platform (DigiHealth), in Sri Lanka. Amid increased demand for services in the wake of COVID-19, Sri Lanka will benefit from this initiative that is designed to boost access to affordable and quality healthcare.

In addition to creating an advisory and investment toolkit that can be replicated elsewhere in Asia and around the globe, DigiHealth will offer a range of digital healthcare solutions such as medical care, health education, and health information services via telehealth, specialist healthcare via telemedicine, and the means for healthcare providers to transform their processes through automation, digitization, and advanced analytics.

To be developed in partnership with Hemas, one of the largest private-sector healthcare providers in the country, the Sri Lankan model aims to help Hemas to scale up its overall services, boost efficiency and accelerate its digital transformation strategy across its portfolio of health companies.

Rana Karadsheh, Regional Industry Director for Manufacturing, Agribusiness, and Services at IFC Asia Pacific, remarked that the COVID-19 pandemic has clearly illustrated the need for digital and technological innovations in healthcare to ensure that people can gain access to the medical care they need, especially those living in hard-to-reach areas.

IFC’s DigiHealth Platform

  • The DigiHealth platform aims to deliver healthcare services at a higher quality and lower cost which is needed in a country like Sri Lanka where existing private sector players have limited reach.
  • This partnership is expected to play a unique role in supporting patients to be more involved in their own care.
  • It will expand the reach of health systems by increasing the resilience of Sri Lanka’s healthcare sector and beyond.
  • The largest multilateral investor in healthcare in developing countries, IFC has invested US$6 billion in more than 200 projects in the past two decades.

Stating that Hemas is committed to creating equal access to products and services that are better for the communities in Sri Lanka, Kasturi Chellaraja Wilson, Group CEO of Hemas, said:

“This partnership with IFC is a validation of our ongoing efforts to digitalize and optimize the delivery of healthcare services across the country. With IFC’s backing, we will be able to ensure that DigiHealth will play a pivotal role in ensuring that all Sri Lankans will have access to quality healthcare at their fingertips.”

She added that easy access to quality healthcare services has become increasingly important in a post-COVID world, especially for vulnerable communities.

Grand View Research has estimated that, prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, basic early-stage digital health systems across the globe were set to grow from US$95 billion in 2018 to US$509 billion by 2025. The IFC has stated that the pandemic has accelerated this transition and is expected to boost long-term growth in the digital health industry with the potential to change the entire healthcare delivery ecosystem.

Although new technologies in Sri Lanka offer opportunities to improve healthcare, a report has offered a wide range of suggestions for restructuring the healthcare system of the country. It has recommended establishing a new vision for a reorganized Sri Lankan healthcare sector, preserving health gains from the past, and preparing to meet the health challenges of the future.