Reflections on HASA Conference 2018, Looking Ahead to 2019


Reflections on HASA Conference 2018, Looking Ahead to 2019

Delegates to the Hospital Association of South Africa Conference that ended on the 3rd October at The Forum in Bryanston and who attended the event’s Gala Dinner entered the La Toscana, Montecasino venue to be confronted by a scene from Renaissance Italy (pictured above), complete with period-correctly attired usher, artists in full swing, and a candlelit and rose-petal strewn staircase. On ascending the staircase, centuries disappeared as delegates found themselves in a scene from Sicily, a decorated hang-out featuring “Wanted” posters, empty and upturned crates of prohibition-era liquor, and waiters and bar attendants dressed up as 1930s gangsters and molls. After a decent refreshment period, delegates were ushered into the dance and party area where Dr Victor and the Rasta Rebels provided music and entertainment until late.

It is safe to say that a grand time was had by all. That said, the event was really the cherry topping the cake. The real value in attending the conference was in the presentations given by leading thinkers and healthcare experts drawn from the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada, Kenya, and of course South Africa.

The first day featured Dr Shrey Viranna the Group Chief Executive Officer at Life Healthcare, who immediately followed the Honourable Minister of Health on the podium. After Dr Viranna, David Ferriera from the International Finance Corporation spoke, and he was followed by the immediate past President  of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries, Marjorie Ngwenya. Each speaker looked to the future to respond to the conference theme: Thinking Forward, Forward Thinking, and to try to envision what lies in the future for healthcare.

On the second day of conference, the focus was on the Healthcare Market Inquiry provisional findings and recommendations – the discussion featured a member of the panel conducting the enquiry, Professor Sharon Fonn, who outlined aspects of the panel findings. She was followed by various speakers who offered specific reflections on the panel’s work – Anthony Norton provided a legal perspective, Barry Childs and actuarial reflection, Nicola Theron a competition economics view, and Peter Davis, the past Deputy Commissioner of the United Kingdom Competition and Markets Authority, an international perspective.

On the same day, four other speakers provided highlights: Jens Deerberg-Wittram spoke about the move towards value-based healthcare; Sue Armstrong warned that a serious future difficulty lies in the low number of nurses the country is producing; Ed Fitzgerald launched a recently-completed survey by KPMG International into the drivers of quality care; and fittingly, the day ended with a standing ovation for Rolene Wagner and her team at Frere Hospital who recounted how they turned  it into  a centre of excellence in the public health sector.

The third day of conference was devoted to digital health with cardiologist and President-elect of the South African Heart Association David Jankelow kicking off with a description of the dizzying array of innovations underway. He was followed by Michael Mol, the founder of Hello Doctor, Dan Gordon who spoke about health information exchanges and how healthcare institutions are increasingly sharing data and knowledge to enhance quality care and operational efficiencies, and William Mapham who recounted the learnings his Vula Mobile application offered on the way to becoming a bridge between rural patients and urban specialists.

Roseanne Murphy added her expertise to the conference to discuss the business impacts of the recently tabled National Health Insurance and Medical Schemes Amendment Bills, and Brian Ruff provided insights into the National Health Insurance tender processes and how these are potentially re-shaping healthcare provision in the country.

Delegate feedback was overwhelmingly positive: one said, “Great conference. I am inspired and motivated”; another, “Excellent conference. Congratulations”; and another, “Fabulous conference HASA. Well done.”

All HASA eyes will now turn to August 26th 2019 when the next conference is planned for the Cape Town International Conference Centre. See you there.

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