NHI rush: Gauteng hospitals look to catch up on digitisation

  • The Gauteng Department of Health is set to begin digitising paper-based patient records in order to speed up the launch of its ehealth system.
  • It has set a target of digitising a minimum of 800 million records within the next three years.
  • This initiative was announced a week following the signing of the NHI Bill into law.

The Gauteng Department of Health is starting a massive effort to digitise paper-based patient records across the province’s hospitals. It has set a target of digitising a “minimum” of 800 million patient records within the next three years.

This announcement comes a week following the signing of the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill, which is said to increase the access of quality healthcare for all South Africans at public health facilities, especially for those without medical aid schemes.

Critics have said that the NHI Bill has been rushed, and the bill itself requires more time and thinking before it can actually be used to help South Africans. One point of contention is how the government will fund the NHI system. Official documentation asserts that it will be through increased taxation of the South African public.

Gauteng’s Health Department announced that its starting record digitisation project is two years behind the implementation of Netcare’s electronic medical record system. A system which is now being used by medical professionals across most of the private healthcare provider’s facilities.

According to an announcement from the department, Gauteng’s mass digitisation initiative is in efforts to speed up the adoption of the government’s Health Information System (HIS) that is to be used across the province’s 37 public hospitals. Before the system can be used, the digitisation and back-scanning of all patient records must take place.

Digitisation is set to begin at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital and Rahima Moosa Mother and Child Hospital initially, so that these hospitals can utilise the HIS first. This ehealth system is a cloud-based patient record storage and access method, which the department says will “simplify access and management of medical information, fostering a more efficient and effective healthcare system.”

Over 100 young people from areas surrounding the two hospitals are being recruited to aid in the implementation of the project, and will be in charge of scanning and capturing all paper-based patient files and digitalising the information.

The department says the HIS has already been launched in all public hospitals in Gauteng, and 33 community health centres as well, but only in the form of the patient administration, billing, finance and revenue modules, with patient records only now being digitised.

[Image – Photo by Olga Kononenko on Unsplash]


About Author


Related News