The use of technology in public sector tertiary health facilities in South Africa
Cline, Gregory Bobby
The South African public healthcare sector faces many challenges, including weak healthcare systems and under resourced facilities that deliver poor outcomes relative to total healthcare expenditure. Healthcare delivery, access to healthcare and cost containment has the potential for improvement through more efficient healthcare resource management. Global references demonstrate that information technology (IT) has the ability to assist in this regard through the automation of processes, thus reducing the inefficiencies of manually driven processes and lowering transaction costs. This study examines the impact of new systems implementations on service delivery, user adoption and organisational culture within the hospital setting in South Africa, as perceived by doctors, nurses and hospital administrators. Limited research has been conducted in South Africa that focuses on end-user perceptions of health information systems. Ninety-four quantitative and qualitative interviews with doctors, nurses and hospital administrators were conducted in two public sector tertiary healthcare facilities (in two provinces) to record end-user perceptions. Structured questionnaires were used to conduct the interviews. Ordinal data was analysed according to a seven-point Likert scale and a distribution-fitting approach was applied to categorise the various criteria. Doctors, nurses and hospital administrators recognise the role of technology as an enabler for improving access to healthcare services and reducing costs in the South African public healthcare sector. The research provides some insight into the reasons for investing in system automation, the associated outcomes, and organisational factors that impact the successful adoption of IT systems. In addition, sustainable success in these initiatives is as much a function of the technology as it is of the change management function that must accompany the system implementation.
Public healthcare sector, Technology in healthcare