eHealth has yet to be incorporated into the  Eden District NHI pilot, according the Western Cape’s Minister for Health’s spokesperson.

Discussing eHealth and the Eden District NHI pilot, Hélène Rossouw, Spokesperson for  Minister of Health Western Cape Government, Theuns Botha, stated: “One of our 2014/15 proposals is to address the use of eHealth, but up till now, this has not been addressed.”

The district is currently incorporating the initiatives derived from the NHI project, such as patient referral systems, staff workshops, medical equipment management and educational programmes, into their daily operational duties with the aim of improving service delivery all their health facilities are involved or affected in one way or another.

In 2012, when the pilot was initiated, basic equipment was received such as wheelchairs, scales and computers, which have been integrated into the systems already in play. Additionally, three vehicles have been received for mobile health services; including one dental services vehicle that has proven particularly useful for the outreach to schools and other communities who have difficulty in accessing medical services. New technology and systems have not yet been a focal point of the pilot.

However, eHealth is not entirely absent when it comes to medicines distribution. Mrs Rossouw explained “we have a very functional internal system, supplied by UTI, for packing and distributing chronic medication parcels. Patients’ scripts are sent from their health facility to UTI, which then packs and distributes back to the health facility. The patient receives a text message that the parcel is ready for collection three days in advance.”

Regarding the pilot’s progress, Mrs Rossouw said that “it’s still much too early to tell if the pilot has brought about any improvements to the affected community, but certainly many additional clients have had access to resources of School Nurses and Medical Practitioners.”

Mrs Rossouw went on to say that management schemes still require further development, “it’s very labour-intensive to be managing all the projects set out for the pilot. We need to find a way to streamline the processes and to integrate NHI initiatives with our regular activities.”

According to Mrs Rossouw it’s still difficult to tell whether it’ll be possible to implement NHI in the time frame laid out by the Department of Health (DoH). “There are so many variables involved; at this point we maximise the use of any additional resources we receive, and move positively forward.”

eHealthNews will continue to follow and report on the developments of the Eden district and other NHI pilots across the country.

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