"World demographics show that the population is getting older and has a greater need for healthcare," comments Siemens Healthcare CEO Graham Maritz. "Our innovations combine state-of-the-art laboratory diagnosis, imaging technologies and information technology (IT) for an earlier prevention and more specific diagnosis thus enhancing patient care. In short, we believe we provide answers for life," he says.
The need to incorporate prevention into the continuum inspired Siemens' purchase of its diagnostics division in 2006, adding the division to the company's existing technology fold.
The medical diagnostics division offers solutions ranging from point-of-care applications to the automation of entire laboratories, covering in-vitro diagnostics, including immunodiagnostics and molecular analysis.
"If you can prevent a disease from happening, the costs of managing the disease are far lower than only detecting it. The later the detection happens, the more costly it is to manage the disease," explains Maritz.
Siemens Healthcare's imaging and IT division incorporates systems for optimising healthcare workflow. Maritz says that IT is a growing sector of the business, streamlining workflow by means of a hospital information system and imaging systems such as radiological imaging systems and picture archiving and distribution systems.
Meanwhile, the company's workflow and solutions division provides solutions across a range of fields from cardiology to neurology.
Maritz says that, while Siemens has seen only sporadic spend from the public healthcare market in South Africa, the Department of Health's Hospital Revitalisation Programme holds promise for the company.
Siemens has been awarded the tender for the Gauteng hospital information system project, which will eventually span the province. The system tracks patients electronically from entry into a hospital to their discharge from the hospital, incorporating patients' demographics, allergies, contra-indications, vital signs and imagining, thereby dispensing with the need for paper records.
"By improving workflows, you can move the patient through the hospital faster and with improved efficiency," comments Maritz.
Siemens is also a consortium partner for the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Hospital, in Durban, in which the company holds the largest shareholder consortium stake of 31%. The facility is the first public-private partnership healthcare organisation in South Africa, and Siemens will be responsible for the managed services in the hospital, supplying and maintaining all the medical equipment required by the hospital, for the full 15 years lifecycle of the project.
Siemens Healthcare offers a range of imported products, the majority of which are under the age of three years old, and is part of the Southern African cluster, which incorporates the South African Development Community and East Africa.