Making patient data pervasive
Information saves lives. Nowhere is this truer than in the healthcare industry. The future of medical care lies in the universal, immediate accessibility of patient records for all authorised healthcare workers. The faster and easier a clinician can view a patient’s full history and related information, the more accurately and quicker decisions can be made about appropriate care, and the better and more immediate the help will be that the patient receives. These are the principles on which AME Africa has built its long-term vision and 20-year legacy as global healthcare technology solution provider.
AME is the crucial link between the medical fraternity and its patients, offering extensive know-how in developing, implementing, operating, and financing international healthcare projects. By taking a comprehensive and integrated approach to client needs and offering tailored solutions, AME creates sustainable benefits for its clients and thereby improves healthcare delivery to patients.
‘We aim to create paperless, filmless environments,’ says Bryn Woombell, Director: AME Africa Healthcare. ‘When you transform a hospital that used paper-based patient records and film-based scanning systems into one in which all information is digital and immediately accessible, patient care improves dramatically. In the end, more lives are saved, and both patients and doctors are happier. That’s what drives us.’
Outdated systems offer no longevity
When AME Africa was established in South Africa in the late 1990s, part of its remit was managing the day-to-day operations of the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Central Hospital in Durban. This public hospital is exclusively referral-based and, at the time, faced several challenges relating to the storage and management of its patient records.
‘First of all,’ says Woombell, ‘the hospital had an ageing server, storage, and back-up environment. It was clear to us that the systems we had in place wouldn’t see us through the next five years, particularly not in light of our vision of maintaining a paperless, filmless hospital.
‘We needed to find long-term technology solutions that will last the lifetime of a patient. You can’t migrate healthcare systems as easily as in other industries owing to the sensitivity of the information. You need a solid, reliable environment that you can upgrade gradually over time without the need to rip and replace. In fact, the longevity of information systems is a key challenge in the medical industry as a whole.’
Lack of funds and skills in medical IT
Cost constraints were also a concern for AME. ‘As everyone knows, there’s little money in public healthcare,’ says Woombell. ‘That’s one of the reasons why you don’t see large deployments of healthcare IT infrastructures in South Africa. There’s not only the cost of the actual hardware and infrastructure to consider, but also the cost of managing and maintaining a sophisticated environment. You need to employ the right people with the right level of skills.
‘And you also need to think of end-user training, enablement, and support – in this case, our clinicians. If they encounter a problem, you need to have the resources to address that issue immediately. You can’t expect a doctor to log a call and only receive support two hours later. Time is absolutely critical in healthcare because lives are at stake.’