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18/10/2021

Gone are the days when hospital staff have to scour through hundreds of documents to find patient files — the Eastern Cape health department has launched an easy-to-use advanced electronic Hospital Management System (HMS).

Health MEC Nomakhosazana Meth launched the HMS2 system at the Elizabeth Donkin Hospital in Gqeberha yesterday.

It was developed during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic and first used at the Rev Dr Elizabeth Mamisa ChabulaNxiweni Field Hospital.

Patients’ information and history of care are recorded, saved and protected via the system.

Nelson Mandela University’s director for the Centre for Community Technologies, Prof Darelle van Greunen, said at the height of Covid-19 the department had learnt to monitor patients remotely, using data to detect symptoms.

She said such data could help with patient care, and had the potential to improve medical diagnosis and self-care.

“This journey started with NMU availing its suite of skills and expertise to support local and provincial government’s efforts in the fight against the unfolding Covid-19 pandemic.”

Van Greunen said the centre’s involvement at the field hospital initially included providing basic digital literacy refresher courses, training on the system and ongoing end-user support.

“The need to take HMS to other facilities became more evident, and early this year, we commenced with the journey at Elizabeth Donkin.

“We rolled out phase 1 which primarily focused on patient registration and ensuring the patients’ journey is well captured to provide us with good data,” she said.

During the launch at the Forest Hill facility, a demonstration showed how the system improved the quality of records kept, and how nurses or doctors could easily view a patient’s last interactions, their mood and any extra information which may have been added.

The superintendent-general of the health department, Dr Rolene Wagner, said the system promoted continuity of care.

“If someone has been admitted at any hospital in the Eastern Cape, the system is able to pick that up, so when patients are admitted their records are available and it’s not a case of having to phone different hospitals to find information,” Wagner said.

Patient admin clerk Johanna Baartman said she was happy the system was finally being used.

“I’m going to thank Covid19 because [without it] our CEO wouldn’t have seen it at the field hospital.

“I know Covid-19 is a serious matter but it’s assisted us in getting something that’s long overdue,” Baartman said.

Meth said the system would help the department reduce medico-legal claims.

“One of the issues that always come up is the loss of folders and you have a lot of unscrupulous people who either take them on purpose, working with those who want to litigate [against] us.

“With this electronic system, there will be no loss of folders any more, because the information is in the cloud,” Meth said.

Meth also opened a new multimillion-rand College of Emergency Care at Dora Nginza Hospital yesterday.

The college will offer a three-year diploma in emergency medical care and an advanced certificate in medical rescue in collaboration with NMU.

Upon completion, graduates will be able to register with the Health Professions Council of SA.

Meth said the facility would be operational next year and “will not be a white elephant”.

This article appeared in The Weekend Post (South Africa) on 16 October 2021 written by Nomazima Nkosi.

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