A pilot initiative was implemented by Microsoft partner Mint Group and the Limpopo Department of Health (DoH) at the Rethabile Clinic, Polokwane, to establish the viability of Healthcare with Artificial Intelligence in enabling improved patient care.
As this was the first project of its kind on the African continent, it served as a base pilot for roll out to all 400 public healthcare clinics across the Limpopo province and, subsequently, all public healthcare clinics in South Africa, to place people first and change the face of public healthcare as a whole.
The Limpopo DoH approached Microsoft and Mint Group to craft a viable solution plan that would address the following challenges:
- Manual patient registration and queue management which results in drastically long queueing times;
- Re-registering of patients who have previously attended the clinic resulting in intensive administration burdens;
- Inefficient and manual appointment booking times;
- The loss of patient records and treatment plans;
- No clear data on patient load, wait times, and queues, rendering staff allocation planning and optimisation difficult;
- Attendance and performance tracking of healthcare staff to avoid phantom employees and patients.
- No means of tracking medicine supplies, stock, and administered treatments.
To alleviate the challenges experienced, Mint Group developed a transformation roadmap for the Limpopo DoH based on the powerful capabilities of Microsoft Azure and AI. The roadmap tied into the Department’s vision of having a ‘clinic in the cloud’.
“This project came about as my belief is that we live in the 21st century and we should be moving towards much more efficient systems and if technology can assist us with that, we should let it,” stated Deputy Director-General Healthcare Services Limpopo DoH Dr MY Dombo.
The core solution on which the transformation roadmap was based was the Mint Vision Application (MVA), enabling predictive analytics, operational Intelligence and the remote monitoring of patients to enable:
- Access control
- Queue management
- Intelligent appointment scheduling
- Medication dispensing
- Treatment tracking
To ensure a viable roadmap that would enable better healthcare for all, Mint Group proposed a pilot phase at one of the clinics in Limpopo to test the effectiveness of the proposed solution in addressing the challenges experienced.
The Rethabile pilot started in November 2018 and concluded in April 2019, monitoring and managing 25 000 patients per month.
Following the completion of the pilot, the following results were achieved:
- Reduced fraud in terms of medication dispersion
- Medication supply and demand prediction and inventory tracking
- Attendance and performance tracking of healthcare staff
- Appointment management and reduced lag times.
- Electronic record-keeping of patient information.
- Queue management
- Reduce ghost staff and patients
- Increased efficiency and communication from clinic staff
- Medication stock values tracking potentially
- Fraud prevention
With plans to enable intelligent healthcare for all of Limpopo’s public healthcare facilities, the Limpopo DOH is paving the way for transformative patient care, altering the way public healthcare is managed and enabling improved service delivery to the citizens of South Africa.