The case for a Health Information Exchange (HIE) in South Africa:
The fragmented nature of South Africa’s health system impacts on both the costs and the quality of the healthcare that is provided. This has raised concerns amongst leaders and policymakers alike, including the Competition Commission’s Health Market Inquiry (“HMI”) panel who have criticised the lack of integration and transparency in the system. It is for these reasons that health information exchanges have become a norm in other healthcare markets across the world.
To address this imperative, six of the country’s largest private healthcare organisations, namely, Discovery Health, Life Healthcare, Mediclinic, Medscheme, Momentum Health and Netcare (the Founding Members of CareConnect), have come together to form a South African Health Information Exchange (HIE) – a confidential electronic exchange of clinical and other information among authorized organisations. This HIE, now established as CareConnect, will provide a health information sharing service to improve the speed, quality, coordination and cost of patient care.
CareConnect will enable the integration of healthcare data from various sources to provide a single online entry point for healthcare providers and funders to access relevant patient information.
In other words, CareConnect will facilitate data flows between data providers and data consumers. This means that when required, data will be ‘pulled’ from the data source, i.e the medical scheme/hospital/pathologist/radiologist/healthcare service provider and provided to the healthcare provider, hospital or medical scheme requiring the data.
CareConnect as the operator of the HIE, is a registered NPO collectively founded by private healthcare funders and hospital groups for the benefit of patients and other healthcare stakeholders in SA. Initially, CareConnect will operate in the private sector, but ultimately the aim is to encompass the entire South African health system.
The benefits of participating in CareConnect:
- CareConnect will enable healthcare providers to access patient information via the HIE regardless of where they are. Information relating to a patient’s health conditions (including results from blood tests and radiology screens) will be available to the healthcare service provider. This will prevent the need for unnecessary duplicate pathology and radiology services, thereby driving efficiencies and cost savings.
- Improved patient outcomes by supporting effective care processes across the continuum of care.
- More effective care coordination between the patient’s healthcare service providers.
- Improved patient engagement and experience by providing relevant data to healthcare providers without the patient having to provide the same data repeatedly.
- More efficient throughput of patients through Emergency Departments (ED).
For healthcare service providers:
- Easier and quicker access to comprehensive, accurate and relevant patient and member information at the point of care.
- CareConnect will save the healthcare service provider time by delivering real-time clinical and benefit information.
- Saving time during an emergency situation by enabling the healthcare service provider to access the patient’s demographic, clinical and scheme information.
- Better understanding of the patient upon referral from other physicians as the patient’s historic health data will be available to the referred physician.
- Increased ability to foster innovation and create a shared culture of continuous improvement in the health system.
For medical schemes:
- Improved case management by the medical scheme as the patient’s updated health record will be available to the scheme’s case managers.
- CareConnect will enable more efficient claims control and processing as procedures/tests performed and hospital discharge summaries will be readily accessible.
These benefits will have a direct impact on reducing healthcare costs and increasing the quality of healthcare.
The evolution of CareConnect
- HIE.ZA Working Group and Colleaga Gartner team explore HIE
- Founding Members sign MOU to envision a shared Health Information Exchange
- Founding Members retain Colleaga / Gartner Team to establish feasibility and desirability of a Health Information Exchange for the SA private health system
- Founding Members agree on Consensus HIE Roadmap
- Founding Members and Colleaga/ Gartner Team begin CareConnect High Level Planning Phase
- CareConnect Operating Model, Vendors and Technology Architecture designed
- MVP Technical Requirements
- CareConnect Establishment
- CareConnect Registration
- Vendor selection and contracting
- Pilot Phase – POC
- Set foundational principles
- CareConnect operational
- HIE platform implemented (HealthShare and PI)
- Use Cases implemented and incorporation of ancillary healthcare providers and associations
- Enablement of independent players in the SA care continuum
- Industry wide engagement
To securely provide comprehensive health information sharing solutions in Africa that will improve consumer health outcomes, quality, safety, efficiencies, and drive down healthcare costs.
CareConnect provides innovative digital healthcare information exchange solutions to stakeholders in the healthcare sector in South Africa, within a sustainable financial framework.
We engage with all stakeholders transparently, neutrally, and inclusively.
We respond and adapt rapidly to change, in the ever-evolving and dynamic landscape of our stakeholders, the healthcare market, and emerging technologies.
We facilitate state-of-the-art health information exchange services through industry-wide integration of systems and processes.
We operate our business with integrity in a prudent, efficient and financially sustainable manner, applying a continuous improvement approach to everything we do.
We design all aspects of our operations and solutions to ensure confidentiality and appropriate use of data, and to abide by privacy and security regulations.
We create an environment that fosters personal and professional learning, growth and performance excellence for the CareConnect team.