Digital technology has enabled healthcare providers around the world to provide more targeted and effective interventions to patients. As the COVID-19 crisis continues to shape the new normal, it is critical that healthcare stakeholders understand the digital health landscape. The first half of 2020 saw unprecedented levels of digital health activity, including US$5.4 billion in venture funding, megadeals such as Teladoc Health’s US$18.5 billion acquisition of Livongo, and accelerated virtual care delivery, such as telehealth and remote monitoring.


Digital Health has many definitions. However, in a broader context, it can be defined as the integration of information technology and electronic communication in the healthcare industry to make healthcare more simple, accessible, and cheap.

Digital health is also utilized in minimizing the administrative costs linked with the treatment and technological advancements in the continuum of clinical data transmission to electronic health records (EHR).

Full-fledged E-health operations require robust infrastructural support with reliable internet connections as well as electronic systems. The application of information and communication technology (ICT) in healthcare is a plausible way of having everyone get access to proper healthcare facilities.


Digital technology has the potential to unlock enormous value in healthcare systems around the world, with the added benefit of improving care while lowering costs. The McKinsey Global Institute estimates that the costs saved by remote monitoring, artificial intelligence, and automation could range between US$1.5 trillion and $3 trillion per year by 2030. (See exhibit 1).

As of 2019, digital health represented a US $350 billion global market with numerous opportunities to compete across multiple subcategories.

Teleradiology is expected to have the largest market share among numerous subcategories. Teledermatology, telepathology, and telepsychiatry are other application-based segments that are expected to increase their market share.

However, the rising demand for secure data privacy infrastructure and growing security concerns are expected to slow down the growth of these services over the forecast period.



North America holds the largest share of the eHealth market revenue, and it is anticipated to maintain its dominance from 2021 to 2026. The Digital Health market in the U.S. is estimated at US$80.2 Billion in the year 2021.

Europe is another major market for digital health, driven, ongoing improvements to healthcare infrastructure. Europe is expected to grow steadily due to adequate infrastructure, rising healthcare costs, improved healthcare solutions, innovative technologies, increased use of m-Health, increased use of remote monitoring devices, and favorable regulatory scenario.

The Asia-Pacific digital health market is examined geographically, focusing on China, Japan, India, and the rest of Asia-Pacific.

During the forecast period, the Asia-Pacific eHealth market is expected to grow significantly. The rising digitalization of healthcare infrastructure in emerging economies such as India and China are some of the major factors driving the market growth.

China accounted for the lion’s share of the Asia-Pacific eHealth market in 2020 and is expected to maintain this position throughout the forecast period.

China will continue to be one of the fastest-growing regional markets. The Asia-Pacific market, led by countries such as Australia, India, and South Korea, is expected to reach US$3.9 billion by 2026.

The Latin American E-health market is anticipated to grow at a CAGR of 13.2 percent from 2021 to 2026. Its market share revenue is currently valued at US$ 1.419 billion and is predicted to grow to US$ 2.638 billion by 2026.

The E-health market in this region has received a significant boost from increased smartphone usage. The population using smartphones is very high, providing a lucrative opportunity for E-health and m-health solutions usage for various health disorders.


The COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light the importance of global health solutions that benefit all nations. However, with Africa’s vast population bearing the world’s highest disease incidence and significant healthcare shortages, the challenge and opportunity to increase the use of digital health solutions to benefit local populations, as well as increase real-world evidence and data related to diverse populations for global therapy development, makes this a critical area to focus on.

McKinsey reported that COVID-19 has resulted in a significant increase in the use of telehealth. Consumer adoption has skyrocketed, with 11 percent of U.S. consumers using telehealth in 2019 rising to 46 percent now using telehealth to replace missed healthcare appointments.

Digital technologies have already played an important role in the global COVID-19 response, providing case identification, contact tracing, and evaluation

Remote health covers virtual consultations and personal wellness, using video-conferencing and wearables; data-driven care includes data sharing across the entire healthcare system to provide a seamless patient experience; and intelligent automation involves AI-enabled customer diagnosis, as well as robotic surgeries and internet of things (IoT)-based asset tracking.


The strains placed on Africa’s healthcare systems since the Covid-19 pandemic outbreak have heightened the demand for innovative technological and digital solutions to support better patient management, universal access, and disease prevention.

Digital technologies have already played an important role in the global COVID-19 response, providing case identification, contact tracing, and evaluation. These lightning-fast responses are made possible by billions of mobile phones, online datasets, low-cost computing resources, and advances in machine learning and natural language processing. However, more needs to be done not only to address current challenges, but also to sustain momentum beyond the pandemic.

The digital health industry is a competitive landscape, and numerous companies across the African continent are currently focusing on the launch of new platforms and aggressively seeking to raise additional funds to expand their services and meet the high demand caused by COVID-19. This is according to a report released by Fortune Business Insights.

Notable health tech startup companies in Africa include Yodawy (Egypt), Vezeeta (Egypt), Estshara (Egypt), mPharma (Ghana), iNNOHEALTH (South Africa), (South Africa), and Field Intelligence (Nigeria).


Vezeeta, the Middle East and North Africa’s leading healthcare startup, has expanded to East Africa with the launch of its doctor booking platform in Kenya. The Cairo-born company, which is now headquartered in Dubai, has expanded its coverage by venturing into the Kenyan market and intends to expand to Nigeria.

Estshara is an online healthcare consultation platform that aims to make healthcare consultation accessible to everyone in the MENA region, as well as to assist small businesses with employee health insurance and to maintain an advanced technological growth level in the healthcare sector.

The company stated at the time that it will use the funds to support its growth plans, which include rolling out new digital capabilities such as online pharmacy and telehealth across its existing footprint and into new markets.

Yodawy, is another healthtech startup firm, which was founded in 2018. It has introduced the region’s first Pharmacy Benefit Management (PBM) solution, which connects pharmacies, health insurance providers, and patients via a sophisticated cloud-based approval engine to serve a larger customer base faster.

The platform works on multiple levels with various stakeholders, allowing patients to have their medicines and products delivered, insurance companies to automate approvals, and pharmacies to increase sales through e-commerce servicing.

Customers can easily order medicines and other healthcare products using the Yodawy Android or iOS app. Through a real-time AI-powered approval engine, its PBM solution connects pharmacies, health insurance providers, and patients.

Patients can take advantage of the service by registering their insurance cards, requesting medications, and receiving instant approvals – after which the medications are delivered to their door.


Ghanaian healthtech startup mPharma was founded in 2013 by Gregory Rockson (CEO), Daniel Shoukimas (CPO), and James Finucane (CTO) with the goal of improving patient access to high-quality medications. It provides health insurance and pharmaceutical companies with solutions to make it easier for patients to afford their medications.

The company’s core strategy is to use those platforms to gain more market power with pharmaceutical companies while also lowering retail prices through “just-in-time” inventory management. In the long run, Rockson hopes to collaborate with African governments to improve drug availability through better centralized systems.

The company recently launched Mutti, an electronic credit financing service to help patients pay for healthcare and generate income from sales of its data on medicines use.

The digital platform has been designed to make telemedicine better by providing doctors with patient diagnostic data synchronously during a virtual consultation. Announcing the launch, mPharma CEO and founder, Gregory Rockson, announced that all children below the age of 10 that live in a community with a Mutti pharmacy will receive a free three-month Mutti Doctor subscription.

This will give them unlimited access to free medical examinations and physician consultations. The company targets to, over the next 6 months, open 100 Mutti Doctor locations across their network of Mutti pharmacies.

In the near future, the mPharma team plans to expand its Vendor Management Inventory (VMI) and QualityRx platforms to over 14,000 community pharmacies in Ghana, Nigeria, and Kenya.

The US$50 billion African pharmaceutical market faces challenges such as sprawling supply chains, low order volumes, and exorbitant prices. Many Africans continue to die from preventable or easily treatable diseases because they cannot afford to buy medications. (See Exhibit 2).

mPharma’s presence in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, and Zambia Ethiopia, and aims to increase access to these medications at a lower cost while ensuring and preserving quality. The company serves over 100,000 patients per month and to have distributed over a million drugs to Africans through 300 partner pharmacies throughout the continent.


Kenya is ranked second in Africa for digital health innovation behind South Africa and fifth in Sub-Saharan Africa for digital health priority. The nation’s digital health market is poised to experience a positive deviation with a 19.97 percent annual growth rate resulting in a revenue volume amounting to US$ 649.73 million by 2025.

Notable example includes Ilara Health, a Kenyan-based health tech startup that provides next-generation point of care diagnostics to African consumers. The startup contributes to providing critical healthcare and bridging a gap in diagnostic health care technology. In many peri-urban and rural areas across Africa, diagnostic services are non-existent due to the lack of laboratory-based diagnostic services and tools.

The health tech startup provides access to life-saving tests and screenings that assist local medical provides to improve the quality of their healthcare service.

Changamka Microhealth, is another Kenyan start-up that aims to ‘facilitate the financing of healthcare services for the working poor in Kenya’. Its products include a health savings account, e-vouchers, and a microinsurance scheme. In 2008 it launched a phone-based health insurance product together with Safaricom and British American Insurance Kenya Limited.

A third example is the M-TIBA health wallet, a digital platform accessible via mobile phone that was designed to enable healthcare savings for Kenyans on low incomes. It was created as a result of a collaboration between PharmAccess and CarePay, a digital technology company that received funding from Safaricom and M-PESA.

The mission of PharmAccess is to ‘improve health care in Africa through technology and mobile innovations,’ and make healthcare markets work through digital innovations.’

Then there is Matibabu, a smartphone app that helps to diagnose malaria without a blood sample. Using a custom-made piece of hardware (matiscope), it can pierce beyond the skin to reach the Red Blood Cells. A finger is inserted into the device to diagnose and the results are viewed via a smartphone.

Hello Doctor is another digital health platform available in Kenya. Hello Doctor offers free, daily updates to essential healthcare information. The app also offers healthcare advice, answers to health-related questions in live group chat forums, confidential one-on-one text conversations with doctors (also in local languages), and the ability to receive a call back from a doctor within 60 minutes.


iNNOHEALTH was founded in 2020 by medical doctors Chad Marthinussen, Wade Palmer, and chartered accountant Abdul Malick Salie, with the goal of providing quality, affordable, and equitable healthcare to everyone on the African continent.

The startup’s first product is the doctor-led app MyPocketHealth, an integrated patient healthcare platform that, when it launches later this year, will provide comprehensive AI-driven digital healthcare solutions for all South Africans. It has also developed a wireless POCUS and owns the Epitogen technology in Africa


Nigeria’s digital health market value is projected to reach a revenue volume of at least US$1.3 billion by 2025, with an annual growth rate of 22.31 percent.

Field Intelligence is a health tech company focused on digitizing the public health supply chain to help pharmacies sell better. Also, there is 54gene, which is focused on advancing better health outcomes for global populations through precision medicine and addressing the unmet need for novel therapeutics in healthcare.


Although Sub-Saharan Africa has the world’s highest disease burden, the region’s economic and technological advancements provide opportunities to develop sustainable mobile health solutions to improve health care. This necessitates an integrated approach, strategic partnerships, and the development of new business models.

Digital health strategies are being developed and implemented at a breakneck pace. According to an article published in the Lancet, National digital health strategies and architectures exist in 41 of 54 African countries.


The dominance of donors, NGOs, and other charitable actors in healthcare in 21st century East Africa is giving way to institutions more supportive of the market, such as the philanthropic Gates Foundation and foreign and local for-profit private sector actors.

This feature appeared in the February 2022 issue of HealthCare Africa. You can read this and the entire magazine HERE