In his 2018/19 budget report, MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dhlomo announced that the department had started scanning patient documents electronically to “curb” the loss of files, which he believed contributed to the department presenting inadequate information when defending cases during litigation.
“We have established a special task team to manage the project, and scanning has already started at King Edward VIII Hospital.
“To expedite the project, we will recruit about 80 learnership staff to sort and scan files. Even though this initiative was directed at the three NHI (National Health Insurance) districts - it has now been incorporated for roll-out into the district health service delivery model to all the remaining eight districts,” Dhlomo said.
The department has 11districts, and the three - uMgungundlovu, Umzinyathi and Amajuba - were marked as the pilot sites for the implementation of the NHI.
Priority in the migration to digital record-keeping was given to Queen Nandi Memorial, Newcastle, Edendale, Prince Mshiyeni War Memorial and Mahatma Gandhi Memorial hospitals, Dhlomo said.
He said the project was pursued in conjunction with the implementation of the province’s health patient record system, which sought to improve patient file retrieval leading to reduction in waiting times.
The system also seeks to make easy referral and access to client’s information at different points of service delivery, including point of entry and subsequent referral facilities.
Dhlomo said his department further introduced the centralised chronic medication dispensing and distribution programme.
“We have successfully installed a province-wide computer software system that links health care facilities with our drug depots and suppliers.
“This mechanism serves as an early warning system that identifies low levels of drugs before stock-outs occur.
“We have replaced the manual systems previously used for disseminating medicine to primary health care clinics,” Dhlomo said.
The Democratic Nursing Organisation of SA (Denosa) applauded the department for the programmes, but warned against its introduction without adequate staff training.
“Our human resources is found wanting and our infrastructure, including IT, is not up to standard.
“We would have thought that the department would introduce the paperless system like in Inkosi Albert Luthuli (Central Hospital) and have staff familiarise themselves with the system.
“Once running efficiently, the system will curb the mismanagement of patient data,” said Denosa provincial secretary Mandla Shabangu.