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Shifting the Healthcare Paradigm

It‘s high time the South African Public health implements an integrated healthcare management system. 

  • Bad healthcare management systems (HMS / HIS) has been costing the South African public sector millions of rands
  • Previous investments into procurement of health ICT and HIS in South Africa have not been meeting the requirements to support the business processes of the health system
  • Times have changed though as the world is shifting towards integrated healthcare management 
  • As an SAP Partner for over 20 years, Gijima is always current with the latest SAP Technologies as well as versed in SAP Solutions such as SAP Healthcare Suite that has been localized for South Africa’s healthcare ecosystem 
  • With more that four hundred public hospitals, South Africa need solutions such as a combination of Cerner i.s.h.med® functionality and SAP ISH, which can assist a public hospital to deliver a modern and intuitive solution that helps streamline  the integrated delivery of healthcare

The legacy of the use of paper based patient folders in healthcare management in South Africa, especially in the public sector, is constantly proving to be cumbersome and unreliable to say the least. Most of the NHI budget has been allocated to human resources managing volumes of paper-based silo electronic health records with and no integration of data at a national level. The problem, however, has not just about the use of paper as a record management system but the issue of how a bad patient management systems has been costing the South African public sector millions of rands, largely due to the accompanying window of human error. 

To address the issue of integrated healthcare in the country, it was as early as 1997 that the the National Department of Health published the White Paper for the Transformation of the 

Health System in South Africa. It was only in 2012 that the eHealth Strategy was published where the healthcare management problem was stated. The strategy noted that, “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. This results from the lack of technology regulations and a lack of policy frameworks for all aspects of infrastructure delivery.”

“The decision for investment into an integrated healthcare management system is not an easy one to arrive at, worse in the public sector,” says Shiraaz Joosub, Healthcare Sales Transformation Executive at local ICT giant, Gijima. “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. It is a short sighted view but we cannot escape the legacy that has brought it. This is compounded by the history of previously failed investment and execution through silo based approaches.” 

Times have changed though. The world is shifting towards integrated healthcare management. Joosub adds, “a 2011 reasearch 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 centralized 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 manage the COVID-19 outbreak. This with the World Health Organisation reporting that from 3 January 2020 to 26 October 2021, there have been 376,414 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 2,699 deaths. 

“In order to be able to reach the efficiency as seen in Denmark, you will need to make a brave decision and invest in a system that collaborates all your enabling system from the back end. More especially you will need a partner that has extensive experience and can bring about a good network of OEMs to help your strategy,” says Joosub who has worked in the Healthcare space in various countries for over 25 years. “For example, as an SAP Partner for over 20 years, Gijima is always current with the latest SAP Technologies as well as versed in SAP Solutions and Technology strategies, such as i.s.h. med, a fit-for-purpose healthcare management 

system that has seen the most private healthcare providers in South Africa digitizing their environments through this solution.

The SAP Healthcare Suite of solutions has been designed to provide business capability automation in every area of the healthcare value chain.

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 a ICT provider to just come in and second guess what the hospital needs. Doing that will lead to budgetary wastage and further delaying actually realizing the deliverables of the government’s eHealth strategy and National Development Plan (NDP) 2030, not with more than four hundred public hospitals that need to be connected. Combining Cerner i.s.h.med® functionality and SAP IS-H, a public hospital can deliver a modern and intuitive solution that helps streamline the physician task, so that physicians spend less time on administration and more time treating patients.

In the next article, Joosub will talk more on the technicality and benefits of using SAP Solutions for Public Sector Health Management.  

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