Shifting the healthcare paradigm

It‘s high time the South African public health sector implements an integrated healthcare management system.
  • The inadequate healthcare management system's (HMS/HIS) core should be an EHR, and has been costing the South African public sector millions of rands.
  • Previous investments into health ICT in South Africa have not been meeting the key requirements.
  • The advent of innovative and affordable technology has made integrated healthcare management a near-reality and paved the way to healthcare digitisation – a primary driver behind Gijima’s healthcare business model.
  • Gijima has stayed ahead in the race to make such interoperable technology available to public and private sectors and, through its 20-year partnership with SAP, has delivered best-in-class EHR to the local market with constant localisation efforts to ensure Gijima supports its government's e-health strategies that align to the National Health Insurance Bill (NHI).
  • With more than 400 public hospitals, South Africa needs seamlessly integrated solutions.

The legacy of paper-based patient folders in healthcare management in South Africa, especially in the public sector, is constantly proving to be cumbersome and unreliable. In a review of the APP (annual performance plan) of one of the provinces, it appears that much of the budget had to be allocated to human resources managing volumes of paper-based silo electronic health records with minimum integration of data at a national level. The problem, however, is not just about the use of paper as a record management system, but the issue of how an inadequate patient management system has been costing the South African public sector millions of rands, largely due to the accompanying window of human error and the lack of controls, checks and balances afforded by information management systems.

The government's e-health strategy noted: “Although large sums of money have been used to procure health ICT and HIS in South Africa in the past, the ICT and HIS within the health system is not meeting the requirements to support the business processes of the healthcare ecosystem, thus rendering the healthcare system incapable of adequately producing data and information for management and for monitoring and evaluating the performance of the national health system.”

“The decision for investment into an integrated healthcare management system is not an easy one to arrive at, worse in the public sector,” says Shubna Harilal, Managing Director of Gijima Technology Solutions, the award-winning division of local ICT giant, Gijima, for its Healthcare Solution in both the private and public sector.

“The reality is that when it comes to the crunch, decision-makers will rather look at more wards, more beds, more equipment rather than looking at the holistic management system and its advantages. Given the current status of e-health in South Africa, a more collaborative and integrated approach to technology adoption is a must where TCO (total cost of ownership) can be contained by taking this enterprise approach rather than silo-based strategies currently demonstrated in public sector digitisation efforts.”

Times have changed though. The world is shifting towards integrated healthcare management. Hiralal adds: “A study of various countries has revealed that Denmark has a history of e-health strategies ranging back to 1996 when the first strategy was launched. The same study also revealed that Denmark has a centralised computer database to which 98% of primary care physicians, all hospital physicians and all pharmacists, now have access.”

The Denmark study has now pushed the subject of efficient public sector integrated healthcare management into the forefront with its ability to help and support the management of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“In order to be able to reach the efficiency as seen in Denmark, you will need to make a brave decision and invest in commercially over-the-shelf systems that are rich in features and functionality and not needing beta version testing or proof of concept approaches but already recognised as best-in-class and fit-for-purpose. More especially you will need to partner with a provider that has extensive experience and can bring about a good network of partners to help your strategy,” says Hiralal, who is one of the leading female executives in the IT space with multiple solution project implementation awards under her belt.

For example, as a SAP partner in healthcare for over 20 years, Gijima brings tried and tested success stories of integrated healthcare management systems adoption and has demonstrated the ability to integrate patient healthcare data, the result of which is better patient quality of care, safety and improved outcomes.”

Solving some of the problems currently experienced in the public sector healthcare space needs a paradigm shift. The call now is no longer about getting an ICT provider to just come in and gap-fill what the hospital needs today, but a provider who knows what the healthcare industry needs in terms of the e-health strategy, and has experience in providing a solution with a long-term vision. Doing the former will lead to budgetary wastage and further delaying actually realising the mandate of the government’s e-health strategy and National Development Plan (NDP) 2030, not with more than 400 public hospitals that need to be connected.

As part of the series, the next press release will emphasise on Gijima’s ability to help clients focus on the technicality and benefits of using SAP Healthcare Solutions for Public Sector Health Management.

Editorial contacts
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Communications Specialist (Gijima) (010) 449 5000 / (083) 301 7878