Friday, February 23, 2007

Smart Card system for Johannesburg hospitals...

HERE's a story. After all the debate around the possibility of using Ubuntu to roll out a cheap technology infrastructure to aid SA hospitals - it seems like someone took notice. Whether the Premier, Mr Mbhazima Shilowa (who looks absolutely DASHING in his jazz hat) reads All Scrubbed Up or not is another question. But hark the sounds of technology actually helping the patient situation.

Reported in the Citizen recently...

Shilowa also announced that long queues at provincial hospitals and clinics could soon be a thing of the past, should the government’s smart-card plan materialise.

In his State of the Province address he painted a picture of a paperless information system that would ensure speedy access to healthcare in all communities, especially for chronically ill patients.

He said the province would develop a computerised card system so patients would just have to “swipe” their cards when rushed into hospital for medical emergencies or when collecting medicines.

“This system will prevent long queues at dispensaries as pharmacists can immediately begin to package a patient’s medicinal supply without having to wait for long. The card system will also help doctors identify the patients’ previous treatment and prescribed medication. The doctor will in turn be able to speedily diagnose patients.”

Wow. That's thinking. The DA (our opposition party for international readers) had the customary negative things to say.

DA health spokesman Jack Bloom said the computerised plan for hospitals had been promised before.

Ah, what can ya do. Still, it remains one of the biggest problems - sharing information between the clinics and the hospitals. Not only in Johannesburg - but across the entire country.

Gotta wonder whether a fat cat government buddy is going to get the contract - or whether they'll have the nouse to farm it out to a low cost Linux collective. I can think of a few. If you're out there - here's a business pitch waiting to happen!


Anonymous said...

Tell Mbhazima to save his money, open source is on its way and it is going to hit healthcare in the chest like a freight train.

SA is a perfect test bed.

Timeframe? Sooner than you think.

Andy Hadfield said...

well, the article didn't actually say what platform he planned to use. I'd be interested what would happen if it went out to tender.

ONLY problem open source / linux stuff would have to get around is the perceived poor usability (or techie-only usability).

Training is always a barrier when putting this kind of stuff across a province.

David said...

Poor usability is not an open source issue, it is a programmer issue,inexperienced programmers tend to be unaware of HCI (Human Computer Interaction) concepts. Worse, most of the OS HIS systems around today were written by people unaware of what a degree in Computer Science even is.

Suppose you had a system, which had first class usability, open source, flexible, multi-lingual, highly configurable and met all your needs, would you be interested?

Well of course you would have to define your needs first. Why dont you gather your clinical friends and come up with a wish ilst of post a series of blogs on your requirements?

You could specify features around lab and med orders, nursing collection requirements, lab processing, pharmacy processing, scheduling, nurse documentation, physician notes, and so on. What is really important is whatare the major differences hospitals in South Africa (printing, labelling, workflow etc). To keep it high level and not get lost in the detail, limit it to the top 100 features.

Coming up with even a long high level list might be challenging but you could leverage the manuals for the US Veterans software system over here:

It will be worth the effort, believe me.

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