Read the Conversation

EF: What does your company do and where are you based? 

AV: Quantium is a global data analytics company focused on helping clients harness data to power breakthrough possibilities for clients and society. The company is headquartered in Australia but has been expanding and are present in a number of regions around the world including South Africa, America, England, and parts of Asia. Quantium Health is part of the broader Quantium Group, working with healthcare clients but we also have practices in Retail, Financial Services and other areas. It is an excellent and unique setup because we learn from other sectors that are further ahead in the value chain in data analytics.  

We have a joint venture with Discovery Health. Our work in South Africa spans most types of clients including pharma, MedTech, and hospital groups where we provide insights in areas such as market intelligence, understanding patient journeys, and health outcomes using real-world data. One area which we are particularly passionate about is Value-based healthcare, which is an important future trend globally but also in South Africa. 

We also have a growing body of work in supporting health ministries in African countries to help them use healthcare data for better decision-making.  

EF: In the context of the Twitter sale and from a data-driven perspective, how would you utilize the social media platform? 

AV: Social media data can be engineered to give insights into the several ways we can positively contribute and make a difference in the world. Data can be used constructively or destructively. Therefore, Twitter data utilization can be practical and useful beyond scrolling and engagement. 

EF: What are the key lessons from the pandemic and how can they be utilized for the future? 

AV: The pandemic accelerated the process of data usage in healthcare. The necessity to analyze and understand data has increased a hundredfold. It is a silver lining as many positives can be taken away from it. 

We have always believed in the power of data and having real-time, in-depth data to inform important decisions. The pandemic helped boost our purpose and mindset. During the pandemic, people had to analyze data, get insights as quickly as possible, and act on it. The time has long passed to prove the value of data. It is now all about how you build systems within your organization to analyze and act on data quickly and effectively. 

EF: What does the future of healthcare delivery look like and what will be the role of data science in developing healthcare systems in South Africa? 

AV: Healthcare is becoming dual. It now operates online and offline. Online healthcare solutions are not the only solution because there is power in seeing a doctor face-to-face. There is great power in building a relationship between a provider and a patient. The question is how to use digital solutions to augment the relationship between the provider and patient to make it more seamless and effective. It is a big issue that we should figure out together.  

Healthcare is lacking in several things when it comes to data. One of the issues it suffers from is fragmented data. Different players are involved in the health journey of a patient, and each player has a piece of information that can improve the patient's health. This goes beyond patient care; it is in research, and it is value-based healthcare. The solution is in how we break down the silos and bring the information together while maintaining safety, security, and patient confidentiality.  

EF: Can you elaborate on key healthcare trends data analytics will aid, such as home-based healthcare? 

AV: At home, healthcare is a growing trend, although it is still in its foundational phase. Most people are comfortable in their homes, technology is advancing, and medical devices are becoming more portable and user-friendly. This is why home-based care is a trend. It will keep growing and it may be the new future.  

Value-based healthcare is also a growing trend in South Africa and many of our clients are genuinely thinking about this. It is fundamental and will be a key trend in the future. There will be a shift from fee-for-service models to paying for outcomes over time, which is intuitively what other people-facing industries are based on. Measuring health outcomes and creating payment and reimbursement systems based on value holds great power for unlocking the next evolution of healthcare. This also stops the rising cost of healthcare while maintaining the quality of healthcare.  

EF: What is the strategic importance of South Africa given Quantium's global presence, and how do you attract resources from headquarters? 

AV: Africa is an important market for us. South Africa was the first subsidiary we opened outside of Australia and it is of strategic importance to Quantium. We have many important and trusted collaborations in South Africa such as with Discovery and our clients in pharma, MedTech and hospital groups.  

We are committed to building and growing data science capability in South Africa. We hire many graduates each year from STEM fields into data science early and build cohorts of phenomenal data scientists over time. We do this by providing on-the-job experience, training programs and opportunities to work in other global markets where we have a presence.

EF: How do you incorporate your health expertise into your role as a manager? 

AV: Combining data science with industry experience can help solve the biggest problems within any industry and health is no exception. I have always been interested in data and the power of data in transforming healthcare. My experience over the last 10 years working has helped me get a good understanding and appreciation of the healthcare landscape in South Africa. Therefore, my role allows me to bring that experience and work with some of the best data scientists in South Africa and Australia to solve our client's toughest challenges.  

EF: What factors make Quantium a partner of choice in South Africa? 

A: Many large organizations we partner with believe in Quantium's data ethics and security. Clients trust us with their data, and we will use it to do good and unlock the value within that data. Some companies have amazing data but don't know how to make it more available and useful externally. Helping clients organize their data internally and use it externally in a responsible manner is something Quantium excels at.  

EF: What skill set do you look for when hiring new generation graduates? 

AV: We love to build our own data science talent from young graduates who are passionate about using data in solving important challenges in areas such as health, banking and retail. We typically hire graduates with data-related degrees like actuarial science, engineering, physics, statistics, mathematics, or computer science. In a nutshell, we look for people that have an analytical foundation and are curious about solving important problems. 

EF: What advice would you give to young leaders who plan to go down a similar career path? 

AV: Hard work is key. Many people underestimate the effort that is required to excel in a field. There will always be pressure and responsibility that comes in any given area. Therefore, hard work, determination, and going the extra mile are the key factors to success. Passion is equally as important as determination. Finding something you’re passionate about will allow you to find opportunities for a new job or opportunities within your company. Finding opportunities to express your passion is a good path to success without burnout.

EF: What will you celebrate at the end of the year, and what will your speech be?  

AV: Sometimes, we get so lost in the now that we forget to look at the bigger picture. I want to unlock the power of data for Quantium Health. There is a lot of amazing data within healthcare, and I hope we will be able to bring it all together and help governments, and healthcare leaders in med-tech, pharma, and hospital groups unlock the value in data. I want us to help our clients get amazing new insights they would have never seen with traditional decision tools. Making a difference in healthcare ultimately makes a difference in patients' lives. 

EF: Do you have any other message for our readers? 

AV: There is a lot of caution in trying new things in healthcare, and rightfully so. Healthcare has always been highly innovative in developing new drugs and devices however, perhaps slower in innovating how service is delivered or how healthcare companies operate. My call would be for healthcare stakeholders to be bolder, break silos and start collaborations between pharma, med-tech, insurance, hospital groups, regulators, and the public sector for a sustainable healthcare system in South Africa. We have proved that this is possible during the pandemic and I would love to see collaboration and innovation continue in using data more effectively in all areas of our healthcare system. 

July 2022
South Africa