MEDITECH Solutions Bring Real Results to Southern Africa Healthcare
To commemorate MEDITECH South Africa’s 35th anniversary, Executive Vice President and COO Michelle O’Connor recently visited our Southern Africa healthcare team to see firsthand some of the ways they’re deploying the MEDITECH solution to improve care delivery.
O’Connor met with hospital and government leaders, as well as with doctors, nurses, and technologists throughout the region, to see how they’re adapting to their systems.
“There’s different levels of IT usage throughout the region,” she says. “However, no matter what the environment, whether it be at a sophisticated urban hospital, rural health clinic, or a remote health post, Southern Africa healthcare providers were proactively using MEDITECH to maintain longitudinal health records for every citizen. And that was exciting to witness.”
One Patient, One Record in Botswana
In the country of Botswana, working with the Ministry of Health (MoH), the MEDITECH EHR is being used throughout all of the country’s public hospitals, and is currently being deployed in hundreds of clinics and health posts throughout the country.
One of the goals set forth by the MoH is to provide healthcare to all Batswana within a five kilometre radius (3.1 miles). Over 60% of Batswana access healthcare at health posts, which are primary health facilities located mostly in extremely remote and rural areas.
There are 343 health posts in Botswana, most of which are in remote areas with little or no network infrastructure — coupled with the challenging landscape that includes the Kalahari Desert and the Okavango Delta, which experiences seasonal floods.
“Working together with local communities and governments, we’re seeking out ways to improve people’s health no matter where they live,” says O’Connor.
“In areas with low levels of internet connectivity, MEDITECH is working hand-in-hand with the Ministry of Health to adapt our EHR platform. In instances where facilities are offline, we’re developing a system that will sync up with the main database every few days, keeping the patient’s record up-to-date, and helping both patients and their doctors to avoid unnecessary actions such as repeating tests.
"We are proud to be working in partnership with healthcare leaders throughout the country to help make the goal of a one patient, one record system a reality.”
Efficient Lab Processing in Sub-Saharan Africa
Botswana is just one example of MEDITECH’s impact on Southern Africa healthcare. Throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, MEDITECH also has a long history of developing solutions for laboratories and clinics that help improve care processes in the fight against diseases such as HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis.
During her visit, O’Connor had the opportunity to see how one commercial lab, Ampath Laboratories, is developing programs that increase the number of specimens they process. “It’s exciting to see how technologists are integrating data to improve productivity,” she says.
Serving Primary and Community Health in South Africa
While in South Africa, O’Connor also visited the coastal city of Durban, to see how MEDITECH’s solutions are impacting both primary and community health centres.
One site she visited, Ntuzuma PHC, is a provincial primary healthcare facility. It offers a program that monitors and proactively works towards improving the health and well being of families in the area. A doctor is on site once a week.
Once the MEDITECH system is installed, the PHC will use it to provide accredited HIV and TB-related treatment, care, and support services, as well as home-based care services for terminally and chronically ill patients. In addition, caregivers handle assessments and referrals for people with mental health issues, offer services for pregnant women, and distribute fortified porridge and energy drinks to underweight and malnourished patients.
O’Connor also travelled to a provincial community health centre, KwaMashu CHC, situated in the KwaMashu township. The 25-bed CHC serves mainly the KwaMashu community and surrounding areas, with a catchment population of about 750,000, and also serves as a referral for six satellite clinics and eleven mobile units.
“I’m very grateful for the opportunity to see how different cultures with vastly different skill sets can use their MEDITECH systems, to directly impact patient care and healthcare processes,” O’Connor says. “It’s been quite a journey.”
More About MEDITECH's Work in Southern Africa Healthcare
In the country of Botswana, O’Connor toured the future site of the new University of Botswana Hospital, which will be opening with the MEDITECH 6.15 platform. She also visited the Princess Marina Hospital, along with a number of clinics and health posts throughout the area.
Whilst in Durban, O’Connor also visited the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital/AME, the first hospital in Africa to deploy MEDITECH’s 6.1.5 platform. The 840-bed hospital went LIVE in August 2016, and is seen as one of the flagship hospitals in South Africa.
Note on the future of Southern Africa healthcare: The government is in the process of introducing an innovative system of healthcare financing that will have far reaching effects on the health of South Africans. The new National Health Insurance (NHI) plan will ensure that everyone has access to appropriate, efficient, and quality health services.