Business Day

Crucial need to exchange data

The health-care industry is made up of patients, health-care providers, pathology laboratories, pharmacies, clinics, hospitals and medical aid schemes, and all of these entities need to exchange information, says Sybille McCloghrie, CEO of Symelation.

Much of this information is in paper format and the rest is electronically generated data that are scattered over different systems in different locations, across public and private health-care facilities, and cannot be accessed easily by external parties, she says.

"The interchange of patient information is needed between hospitals, clinics and health-care service providers to reach a more informed diagnosis and avoid duplicate processes"

In future, individuals will have the option of more affordable private care at public hospitals and these may need to access their historical data from private hospitals where they were treated previously, she say.

In addition, patients are becoming more aware of their right to legal recourse and will need to be given access to their own and certain relatives' medical records. They will need to do this over the internet from a PC or a mobile devise using any kind of communication network service, she says.

All these issues need to be addressed in order to implement a national electronic health-care record system, which government is intending to do, says McCloghrie.
       She says Symelation and Internet Solutions (IS) have set up health-care CoGs (compliance and government service), a hosted service that allows patient records, e-mail, faxes and other electronic correspondence from any source to be consolidated in a central database repository, and made available or routed to relevant entities.

Supporting paper documentation can be scanned and transmitted online to the repository, for example details of the elements used in a procedure and why, in support of a medical claim. This will provide a full picture to medical schemes, allow them to reduce fraud and to question doctors for prescribing unnecessary medication or treatment, say McCloghrie.

In an emergency, a doctor could trigger a chain of events whereby messages are sent to the ambulance service to transport the patient, to the hospital to prepare for the arrival of a patient and warn of existing treatment or allergies, and to the medical scheme for pre-authorisation, she says.

X-rays, other scans and blood-test information could be stored on the database and access provided to nominated health-care providers, medical schemes and the patient, over the internet.

Health CoGs is a complementary service to the existing medical switch service HealthBridge, which switches medical claims between doctors, private hospitals and medical schemes and is hosted by IS, she says.