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Gauteng healthcare app brings services to residents’ fingertips

Simnikiwe Mzekandaba
By Simnikiwe Mzekandaba, IT in government editor
Johannesburg, 10 Sept 2021

The Gauteng health department’s Mpilo healthcare app has garnered 61 467 active users, as the department accelerates mobile tech use to improve access to healthcare services in the province.

Mpilo, which in isiXhosa means ‘health’, connects residents with the provincial health department to provide them with information and the ability to call ambulances or report service delivery issues.

The Mpilo directory gives users access to hospital CEOs’ contacts, as well as clinic committees and hospital board chairpersons. It also provides a list of healthcare facilities in the user’s area.

The zero-rated app was developed in partnership with Vodacom Business in 2019, using the telco’s internet of things technology.

In the wake of the global pandemic, the app was enhanced with additional features to support the department’s COVID-19 efforts, enabling contact tracing and self-screening, public education and awareness, disease spread monitoring and PPE inventory measurement.

After the user completes the self-assessment, a report is submitted to the department through the app and results will be communicated to the user.

Poppy Tshabalala, managing executive of public enterprise at Vodacom Business, explains: “Today, Mpilo’s expanded features have enabled Gauteng health facilities to navigate the pandemic through improved COVID-19 education and symptom tracking, while also offering the public quick and easy access to ambulance services.

“The Mpilo app was created to strengthen the patient-care experience across health facilities. It has since evolved with the introduction of a number of essential healthcare services that can be accessed free of charge, at users’ fingertips.”

Since its launch, according to a statement, the app has eased communication between patients, doctors and the Gauteng health department, as well as improved service delivery at provincial health facilities.

The statement notes that a fleet management solution was integrated and implemented into the departmental ambulances, to make it easier to request and digitally locate ambulances.

Further additions included a one-time PIN security feature to protect against hoax calls, and the ability for the caller to answer questions about the seriousness of the incident for which they need the ambulance.

“While features like this were planned and implemented within the app, the COVID-19 pandemic required a different approach and response,” states Tshabalala.

“The Mpilo app and other digital solutions, such as the SVS [Stock Visibility Solution], have proven essential in not only improving healthcare access to South Africans, but also vastly improving administration efficiencies.”

The Mpilo healthcare app is available to download from the Google Play Store and Apple App Store.