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IT boffin making an impact on health

Written by Agiza Hlongwane
Award-winning information technology specialist Xolani Phakathi has been quietly designing a range of innovative computer programmes that are helping the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Department of Health save money, while improving its ability to deliver services smoothly and efficiently to the people.

This includes a web-based application that prevents patients from obtaining multiple devices such as wheelchairs, walking and hearing aids.

He also developed a computer programme that enables the department to consolidate and monitor procurement plans for health facilities – making it unnecessary for employees to drive to head office from all over the province to submit dense documents and data, which are impossible to email.  

These computer programmes are now being showcased nationally by the Centre for Public Service Innovation (CPSI), with the possibility of being introduced in other government departments around the country.

The CPSI falls under the Department of Public Service and Administration and reports directly to the minister.  

Born in Inanda, Xolani (34) was recently nominated by the National Youth Development Agency as one of the country’s top young achievers; and was recognised by President Cyril Ramaphosa during this year’s National Youth Day Commemoration event. 

He holds an IT Practitioner Diploma (Systems Support); an Advanced Diploma for IT Professionals (ICT Systems Support); a BTech degree (previously known as a Higher National Diploma) in Computer Science; and a Postgraduate Diploma in Strategic Business Information Technology.

Although he has been involved in the planning, conceptualisation and implementation of a number of IT-related innovative solutions for the department, he singles out the Assistive Devices Electronic Management System (ADEMS) as one of those that he is proudest of.

“Basically, the system regulates the issuing of assistive devices. It manages information on who has these devices, when they were issued, and who is still waiting to receive them. Our mandate as a department is to provide accessible services to our citizens by bringing about efficiency and effectiveness. I believe that this is what the ADEMS system does, as well as the many others that I have been involved in,” he said. 

Phakathi believes that continuous self-improvement is key to staying relevant in the ever-changing field of IT.