Mediclinic focuses on tech to enhance patient care
Posted on 6 March 2023
At the heart of the digital transformation of South Africa’s healthcare sector is the drive to improve the safety and care of patients. The world is moving towards the vision of ‘Smart Hospitals’ where even the hospital bed can serve as a data-collection and analysing device that monitors a patient’s well-being in real-time and creates alerts in anticipation of a patient requiring assistance.
In the current healthcare environment, patients will encounter many care touch points, with data being created at each point along this journey. Health-related data is amongst the most private and sensitive of datasets, and there are a host of legacy regulations governing how healthcare data may be collected, stored, and secured, as well as how it can or cannot be shared.
Gideon Gersbach, Interoperability Manager at Mediclinic Southern Africa says, “We’re at an exciting time where the scope for digitally driven solutions and enhancements in the healthcare sector is limitless. Data is foundational to all these potential transformations, and so the challenges for healthcare’s tech teams are to find ways to seamlessly integrate disparate and fragmented information systems. When we speak of interoperability, we are working towards a fully integrated system that enables information to be shared securely so that every healthcare professional encountering a patient immediately has access to a complete view of their health records, enabling better care and better outcomes.”
Mediclinic Southern Africa embarked on its interoperability and integration platform project more than two years ago, and it will be an ongoing effort for the foreseeable future. Gersbach says, “Our Integration platform is a highly available solution, versatile, fast, and high performing. This is to cater for the volume of transactions within Mediclinic’s extensive environment. It allows us to easily create new data integrations, orchestrate processes and seamlessly connect to various sources whilst ensuring specific standards and protocols are adhered to. As messaging between systems is crucial; having a platform that is intuitive, provides guaranteed message delivery, is auditable and fully traceable throughout is invaluable, and all this without compromising on performance.”
While South Africa’s major healthcare players are currently resolving the basics and laying the foundations for a digitalised sector, there are exciting possibilities up ahead. “As our systems mature, it will become easier to leverage the platform data,” says Gersbach. “That means that we can be more and more innovative, building patient-centric applications, performing extensive analytics, and most likely bringing in emerging technologies such as A.I. for some functions. This is leading to a different view of tech and tech careers in the healthcare sector.”
One example of laying foundations is where Mediclinic has been extensively involved in discussions with different pathology laboratories. This is a collective effort to standardise and agree on the format of the integration messages (HL7/FHIR)driving alignment within the healthcare environment.
Whereas ICT in a hospital setting might once have been regarded as ‘run of the mill’ or ‘back office’, Gersbach makes the point that Mediclinic’s tech teams are today at the forefront of shaping new ways to deliver optimum patient care, often incorporating bleeding edge technologies. He concludes, “Thanks to digital transformation challenges such as interoperability, the healthcare sector offers truly robust tech job opportunities in a recession-proof industry. It’s an innovative and fast-paced environment with ongoing scope for professional growth and development. It’s also emotionally rewarding to be involved in tech projects that are going to improve experiences for people when they are at their most vulnerable. Solving these tech challenges today, changes lives for the better going forward.”