Sri Lanka will become the first country to benefit from an IFC global initiative designed to boost access to affordable and quality health-care through digital technology across the region—amid increased demand for services in the wake of COVID-19.
IFC’s new upstream initiative, the Global Digital Health Platform (DigiHealth), will begin in Sri Lanka with the aim to create a platform to partner with healthcare organizations to develop, implement and finance their digital transformation strategies. DigiHealth will offer range of digital healthcare solutions including medical care, health education, and health information services via telehealth, specialist healthcare via telemedicine and the means for health-care providers to transform their processes through automation, digitization and advanced analytics. The aim is to create an advisory and investment toolkit that can be replicated elsewhere in Asia and around the globe.
The Sri Lankan model will be developed in partnership with Hemas, one of the largest private sector healthcare providers in the country and will be supported by L.E.K Consulting, a management consultancy. In Sri Lanka, the platform will help Hemas scale up its overall services, boost efficiency, and accelerate its digital transformation strategy across its portfolio of health companies.
“Hemas is committed to creating equal access to products and services that are better for the communities of our nation. This partnership with IFC is a validation of our ongoing efforts to digitalize and optimize delivery of healthcare services across Sri Lanka,” said Kasturi Chellaraja Wilson, Group CEO of Hemas. “Easy access to quality healthcare services has become increasingly important in a post COVID world, especially for vulnerable communities. We hope that 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.”
Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, basic early-stage digital health systems across the globe, as estimated by Grand View Research, were set to grow from $95 billion in 2018 to $509 billion by 2025. The global 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 health-care delivery ecosystem.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly illustrated the need for digital and technological innovations in health care to ensure that people can gain access to the medical care they need, especially those living in hard to reach areas,” said Rana Karadsheh, Regional Industry Director for Manufacturing, Agribusiness and Services at IFC Asia Pacific. “The DigiHealth platform is IFC's response to the rising demand for digital health services, which aim to be delivered at a higher quality and lower cost, which is needed in a country like Sri Lanka were existing private sector players have limited reach. Our partnership with Hemas will play a unique role in supporting patients to be more involved in their own care, expanding the reach of health systems, and increasing the resilience of Sri Lanka’s health-care sector and beyond.”
IFC is the largest multilateral investor in health care in developing countries, with investments in over 200 projects in the past two decades totaling $6 billion.