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Centralised IT system to improve health

Written by Noluthando Mkhize
Slovoville Clinic, situated in Johannesburg, has become the first health facility to introduce an electronic health information system that will make the lives of patients and staff at the clinic easier.

Sister Naomi Mogwane, who oversees the running of the Sloloville Clinic, says the piloting of theHealthSource has made it possible for the clinic to maintain patients' records.Systems such as these are in line with recommendations made by the National Development Plan (NDP), which states that there is a need for a national health information system which integrates provincial, district, and communitybased information systems. The NDP is a plan for the country that seeks to eliminate poverty and reduce inequality by 2030.

Elisa Munzhelele, 57, suffers from hypertension. She has to visit the Slovoville Clinic to collect her medication that helps control her illness.

When Munzhelele goes to the clinic to fetch her medication, all the nurses need from her is her fingerprint, which activates her medical history electronically on an electronic system known as theHealthSource (tHS).

The tHS system is being piloted at the clinic by the City of Johannesburg in partnership with Anglo American.

Munzhelele says what she has noticed since the system was introduced at the clinic is the reduced waiting times.

“I used to have to bring my card to the clinic that has all my information on it but sometimes I would misplace this card and I would have to be given a new card for my visit.

“With this new electronic system, all the nurses need is my fingerprint which I place on the computer and all my details pop up. They can track what medication they gave me on my last visit and also see when I’m due to come back to the clinic,” says Munzhelele.

Mayor of the City of Johannesburg Parks Tau launched the tHS in partnership with AngloAmerican in September 2014.

The aim is to eventually roll out this system across all clinics in the City once the pilot is completed.

The tHS is a web-based electronic health record system produced in 2007 for clinics belonging to the mining company AngloAmerican.

It creates a single medical record for patients, which becomes complete as health care providers add to the record.

“It allows patients to consult anywhere where there is a tHS system irrespective of whether the health care provider is a public, private, non-governmental or mining company,” said Director of Integrated Health Policy, Planning and Research Unit within the City of Johannesburg, Bheki Sibeko.

Health workers are able to capture information on the patients while working on the system, ensuring accuracy of critical data. The system can also track the patients' history.

The system is secure and the data or information that is loaded onto the system is confidential.

The tHs prevents duplication of medical tests; it also ensures that the patient gets the correct tests at the right time to help improve medical conditions.

Sister Naomi Mogwane, who oversees the running of the clinic, added that at times one patient would have five cards because there was no system for tracking patient medical records, which the tHs has improved.

The NDP states that systems such as these should link to secure online electronic patient records and other data structures, such as financial, pharmacy, laboratory and supply chain management databases.