CareConnect HIE hub hopes to be part of NHI

Published Oct 29, 2023


The CareConnect HIE (Health information exchange) hub has been in talks with the Department of Health to be part of the National Health Insurance (NHI) in a bid to curb the lack of information flow between health professionals, funders, private and public health facilities.

CareConnect HIE was formed last year by major hospital groups and medical scheme administrators. It is a hub for the electronic transfer of patient health information devised by Life Healthcare, Mediclinic, and Netcare, coupled with medical scheme administrators like Discovery Health, Medscheme, and Momentum Health.

This system has been launched by healthcare organisations in countries such as the UK, the Netherlands, the US, Ireland and Finland, to name a few.

Speaking to Personal Finance, Momentum Health solution strategist Boshoff Steenekamp said: “We are developing a interoperable system, which means it can link with other information systems. As the NHI is being developed, we have had a lot of discussions with the Department of Health on making sure that our system would be interoperable with the public health system.

The Department of Health describes the NHI as a fund from which the government will buy healthcare services for South Africans from healthcare providers both in the public and private sector.

“We have had discussions with the Department of Health in the Western Cape and Gauteng as there is a need to design a system that can be shared across the public and private sectors. We need to take all these steps to unify our system, that is the important building block of the HIE”.

CareConnect HIE CEO Rolan Christian said last year, South Africa launched its HIE, allowing hospitals and medical aid administrators to share patient data and make it possible for healthcare professionals to access the complete view of a patient’s up-to-date health records.

“Through the health market enquiry and through the various engagements in the industry, there was a need for information sharing specifically for the health industry. It was the pinpoint that the industry felt needed to be resolved,” he said.

The vision of the entities was a consistent health system that breaks historic barriers, promoting enhanced patient care, quality, and efficiency.

Recently, CareConnect held a conference in Sandton to showcase the potential of HIE in South Africa. Under the theme of “reconnect”, CareConnect showcased the work it has done since the launch of the HIE.

Steenekamp said how the HIE system works is that information loaded starts with the demographic of the patient and produces a single record for the industry to identify that patient.

“We create a master patient index that immediately improves the quality of working in the industry. Doctors, hospitals, patients use it. Everyone uses the same set of information”.

Christian said CareConnect gets a lot of rich data from hospitals, when the patient consents to share their data as their journey in the hospital between different departments and procedures, that information is generated in the HIE.

“If information is there, it helps to quickly diagnose a patient and treat the patient sooner. The system is designed not to analyse the data of medical schemes, it does not lead to collusion between competitors. It is under the guidance of the Competition Commission,” Steenekamp said.

Christian said patients had the right to not have their information on the HIE.

“The right to privacy is paramount and important in today's evolving nature of the digital system. We give the patient or medical aid member the choice in terms of consent to share their information, and that is one of the cornerstones in implementing the HIE is that a patient can consent to their information shared and available to the system to the clinicians if the patient does not consent to share information, we respect that,” he said.