AI pilot results at Limpopo clinic set to change face of public healthcare
A pilot initiative implemented by Microsoft partner Mint Group and the Limpopo Department of Health (DOH) at the Rethabile Clinic, Polokwane, has proved the viability of intelligent healthcare at government clinics through the application of artificial intelligence.
With plans to transform 400 of Limpopo’s clinics into intelligent healthcare facilities, the DOH will address some of the challenges plaguing the Limpopo citizens that are reliant on the public healthcare system.
The Rethabile pilot, which started in May 2018 and concluded in May 2019, comprised the use of predictive analytics, operational intelligence and remote monitoring to manage 25 000 patients a month, enabling access control and queue management, intelligent appointment scheduling, medication dispensing and inventory control.
The technologies also enabled attendance and performance tracking of healthcare staff to improve service delivery and avoid ghost staff, and provided in-depth data on patient loads, waiting times and queues. This data empowered the clinic to enhance staff allocation processes and digitise patient record-keeping, with a holistic overview of patient care.
“The benefits realised at the Rethabile clinic were unlocked through the application of the Mint Vision App, a platform that extends organisations' existing systems and processes with highly advanced computer vision as well as face-and-voice recognition functionality. The pilot has proved how intelligent technology, coupled with the right vision, can transform public healthcare facilities in South Africa,” stated Mint Group Head of Artificial Intelligence Peter Reid.
Reflecting on the Limpopo DOH’s vision for transformative healthcare, Deputy Director-General of Health Care Services, Limpopo Department, Dr MY Dombo, stated: “We are living in the 21st century, and public healthcare should be moving towards more efficient systems by embracing available technologies that can do just that.
"My vision is to have a clinic in the cloud with seamless and wireless processes across Limpopo. This entails automatic patient verification upon arrival via facial recognition, which will eliminate any uncertainty regarding patient identity. Clinic staff should also know which patients are coming before they arrive to ensure a seamless treatment process. Lastly, all patient data should be stored in the cloud with all administrative processes digitised.
"These initiatives will streamline patient care, ease the administrative burden of health workers, and enable better healthcare for all.”
Praising the Limpopo DOH’s forward-thinking initiatives and transformative vision, Mint Group CEO Carel du Toit stated the Rethabile pilot proved the viability of intelligent healthcare in South Africa’s public sector and established the Limpopo DOH as a revolutionary leader, paving the way for improved patient experiences and service delivery to the citizens of South Africa.
Following a visit to the Rethabile clinic on 28 May 2019, Limpopo Health MEC Dr Phophi Ramathuba tweeted: “We received an update on our electronic Q management system piloting from the team @Rethabile health centre. Watch the space. It’s convincing this time around. There is light at the end of the tunnel. [The] Limpopo healthcare system will never be the same again once this project is done.”