During the 2016/17 provincial health budget speech, Gauteng Health MEC, Qedani Mahlangu, discussed the department’s progress and future plans to modernise health services in the province.

During the presentation of the R37.4 billion budget, MEC Mahlangu said that while her department hoped to have made further progress with the digitisation of patient records, the Gauteng Department of Health (GDoH) is on track to modernise public health services by 2019.

Through digitalisation the GDoH aims to create a single view of the patient. However this will require the department to put several building blocks in place which will include interoperability of systems; a single source of patient demographic information; digitalised patient history; connectivity between each facility; and proficient support staff to train and support the modernised environments.

“Modernisation is the central pillar of Transformation, Modernisation and Re-industrialisation (TMR) and our work as Health is underpinned by the quest to improve the quality of life of our people,” said MEC Mahlangu.

Keeping in line with the GDoH’s digitalisation plans, the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) will soon launch an Uber-inspired app called Response, which will link up with 70 ambulances in the Tshwane district.

In addition, the budget for EMS has increased to R1.2 billion and will be allocated for the procurement of 150 ambulances; 25 primary response vehicles; 11 rescue vehicles; and five mobile emergency communications and command vehicles.

Mahlangu also announced that the department, in partnerships with Vodacom, will pilot a pregnancy monitoring device called Sense4Baby. Expectant mothers can wear the belt-like device to monitor the baby’s heart rate.

Sense4Baby can be used at home or shared by remote clinics, thereby reducing the requirement for clinical visits several times a week. The device also allows an ultrasound to be done using mobile technology.

In addition to the mHealth interventions, the GDoH is harnessing other technologies such as automation for medicines management. Through collaboration with Right to Care, a next generation robot will be installed at Steve Biko Academic Hospital for the automated dispensing of medicines, which will assist to process 144,000 scripts annually.

Other interventions will include installation of ATM type dispensing units in Maponya and Jabulani malls.

Lastly, a budget of R5.6 billion was allocated to strengthen primary healthcare in the province. In the next three months the GDoH will roll out the Stock Visibility System (SVS) in all primary health clinics to monitor stocks using a mobile app.

MEC Mahlangu said R1.9 billion was set aside for construction of new hospitals, clinics and refurbishments of existing clinics and hospitals in the current financial year-term.

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