During the North West Department of Health (NW DoH) budget vote, Provincial MEC for Health, Magome Masike, announced that eHealth is a priority and that electronic medical records (EMRs) will soon be piloted.

“The focus areas this year will be standardised data collection, monitoring and evaluation, eHealth and strengthening supply chain management,” said Masike.

Masike acknowledged the long waiting times experienced by patients in healthcare facilities and said the DoH plans to address the issue. “The plan entails amongst others decreasing patients from hospitals by sending them directly to pick up chronic medicine at private dispensing facilities nearer to people’s homes,” said Masike. “Further to reduce waiting time, we will be piloting electronic record management in Dr Kenneth Kaunda and Bojanala to easily access patient files.”

Masike explained that eHealth is important in not only helping to ensure better patient treatment and management, but also in improving worker efficiency and avoiding legal complications. “We will be laying the ground work for introducing an EMR that will contain accurate patient demographics, contain all images, laboratory data, clinical notes of every provincial citizen, reduce high litigation that all our health departments face because of accurate records, serve as a basis for the upcoming NHI, improve departmental and provincial planning and improve vaccinations, feeding schemes amongst others,” said Masike.

Masike requested a total budget of R8,904,071 for 2015/16 to cover eight key programmes, which includes Administration; District Health Services; Emergency Medical Services; Provincial Hospital Services; Central Hospitals; Health Sciences and Training; Healthcare Support Services; and Health Facilities Management.

District Health services require almost 50% of the budget (R4,670,399) because, according to Masike, it is seen as the “coal face of service delivery” and is crucial to the Villages, Townships and Small “Dorpies” (VTSD) priority programme.

The department also plans to prioritise the upgrading of healthcare facilities. “Over 120 clinics across the province have been targeted for refurbishment. Maintenance is ongoing in all our facilities and specific attention will be put to Joe Morolong Hospital and the Medical Depot. We have also introduced Dental Services at Geysdorp, Deelpan and introduced mobile clinics at Broedersput. Once again, these are small dorpies,” said Masike.

Masike also echoed the Minister of Health’s positive views on MomConnect, noting that the province implemented the mHealth programme in August 2014 and has since trained a total of 6,313 health workers. “The total pregnant women registered were 21,706 against a target of 20,680 from September 2014 to March 2015 (105% success rate),” said Masike.

“MomConnect has also proven to be able to reduce waiting times in clinics because mothers can be updated on the stages of their pregnancy in the comfort of their homes. We only had 16 complaints and they were all addressed,” continued Masike.

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