Empowering HCP’s with Health IT in South Africa



Vanessa Carter
20 March 2018
20:30 SAST | 14:30 EST
How to participate

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Start your answers with T1, T2, T3, T4 or CT for transcript purposes.
Answer only after the moderator prompts. Each question will be prompted every 10 minutes.
Both panel experts and public attendees are encouraged to participate.
The public transcript is recorded by Symplur. Use the #hcsmSA hashtag in all tweets.

T1:  What gaps do you think are important to close for HCP’s during digital transformation?
(e.g. Digital literacy, time constraints, connectivity or ICT infrastructure, unclear policies, complex and siloed data)
T2: What role does HCP empowerment play towards a patient-centered system?
T3: Which HCP’s are important to data aggregation in a health system? How or Why?
T4: How should developers or innovators approach HCP empowerment?
(e.g. Include them in the design process, ask for continuous feedback, act rigorously on user-concerns)

CT (Closing Thoughts): Is there anything you feel is important to add to this conversation?

Join us for a 60-minute Twitter chat with our panel experts and co-hosts from the Public Health Association of South Africa (PHASA) to share your perspective. All stakeholders locally and globally are welcome. The public transcript will be recorded by Symplur.

What does empowerment mean to every user in a digital health system?
Digital technologies have the potential to empower patients and providers, but what does empowerment actually mean and whose perspective should be included in the design process? Why does empowerment matter to the collection of quality-driven data anyway?
These are some of the important questions to think about during digital health transformation.

Patient empowerment is a major topic globally. According to Dr. Tom Ferguson’s description of empowered patients in a digital world, he envisioned multiple facets being crucial to empowerment which included educated, evaluating and equal. Dr. Ferguson coined the term e-Patient to describe this ideal 21st-Century patient. Digital health tools are disrupting the well-established relationship between patient and doctor that has existed for decades. These tools are working to make communication convenient between patient and provider, rather than making the patient struggle to get answers [1]. Many argue that it isn’t enough for IT companies to design technologies that don’t serve a meaningful purpose for patients and that it is partly the reason why some tech companies have failed. When it comes to patient-centeredness, it’s important to understand what healthcare means through the eyes of a patient because the divides between medical professionals and patients may be very different [2]. An emerging method being used at healthcare institutions worldwide is Human-Centered Design (HCD) and co-creation, a set of approaches that can accelerate and humanise digital health innovation. This model isn’t just about getting greater patient feedback during the innovation process, patients are actually co-designers, co-developers, and increasingly more responsible for their own and collective health outcomes [3]. Zsuzsanna Jakab, the WHO Regional Director for Europe, further describes a 21st-century patient as an expert-by-experience, whose active participation in decision-making is vital.

But, patients aren’t the only users who will depend upon and generate data in our health system. Just as digital technologies need to empower patients, so too should their care team be empowered. For example, physicians might benefit from data that enables them to keep track of their patients at home. They might also want to know what a patient is doing in the days or hours leading up to a surgery, or keep track of them in hospital or following their discharge. Perhaps they want to monitor someone with a chronic condition, or they want to know how the environment – physical and social – plays into a patient’s ongoing health and care management [4]. However, an influx of complex data from various digital sources can be overwhelming too. In a recent survey of 400 physicians, it was found that 88% do not feel that they have enough time to deliver on authentic patient engagement, while 81% claimed they have difficulty focusing fully on providing patients with the best possible treatments to meet their complex needs. New technology should always apply design thinking to address these challenges from the earliest stages of its development. This means that it should be designed at its core to empower and engage every participant in the care continuum with a seamless experience. This could be done by including providers into the design process and continually gathering feedback. Whilst digital technologies hold the key to improving workflow and access to data, if it is designed inadequately it will defeat the purpose.

Given the current state of some of the provincial hospitals in South Africa, including the recent burst pipe in Charlotte Maxeke Academic Hospital’s Medical Records room, it seems the obvious time to seriously consider meaningful ways to implement digital innovation that serves both patient and provider, whilst also improving the quality of data that government must collect to keep South African citizens healthy. But who should participate?


  1. Forbes: Medicine, What Healthcare Technology Will Do The Most To Improve Patient Care?, 9 February 2018
  2. Managed Care, When Value is in the Eye of the Patient, 4 March 2018
  3. Harvard Business Review, Putting humans at the Centre of Healthcare Innovation, 2 March 2018
  4. mHealth Intelligence, Challenges and Opportunities of Mobile Applications in Hospitals


The chat session is open to everyone to participate, however, our panel experts bring a unique set of perspectives relating to the topic.

Simon Spurr – @simonspurr30
Simon has worked in the South African and United Kingdom healthcare industries for the past 15 years. He has senior management level experience with Discovery Health (SA’s largest private healthcare funder) and Aon (world’s largest risk management firm), and more recently in his own ventures. In 2013, Simon co-founded his first digital health venture. In 2015 he launched Care Delivery, a digital platform which helps patients connect to healthcare providers for seamless home- or work-based care. In 2017 he led the merger of his company with another to form HealthCloud, a digital health platform that solves data interoperability through seamless connections into multiple healthcare systems and apps. Simon has a deep understanding of the healthcare industry– including funding, insurance risk design and modelling, wellness programmes and rewards platforms. He has had success with two start-ups and his entrepreneurial nature means he thrives on new challenges and working with other start-ups in an advisory role. Simon is currently the co-founder and CEO of HealthCloud based in JHB, South Africa. He has spoken at numerous healthcare conferences and events, in SA and abroad, including: AfricaCom, Tech4Africa, The Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS), Longevity Healthy Ageing Congress and eHealth Toulouse (France). Simon is passionate about the collaboration of healthcare and technology. This new frontier of digital health is, in his words, “the next great enabler in global healthcare systems”.

eHealthNews South Africa – @eHealthNewsZA
eHealthNews is a source of news, comment and features about healthcare IT in South Africa with the objective of bringing the South African eHealth community together. Our ambition is to provide a one-stop portal for industry insiders (and those who want to engage with eHealth in South Africa) to find relevant information on suppliers, policy and current events.

We hope to bring together a community of interested parties as well as provide a portal for stakeholders and suppliers to communicate to the market through.

eHealthNews is completely independent with no third-party stakeholders other than standard sponsorship and advertising arrangements with suppliers.

Dr. Moeketsi Modisenyane – @moeketsimodise1
Moeketsi is a public health researcher with a strong interest in global health issues; particularly global health diplomacy; migration, health and development; health systems and health governance. He holds the position of Director: International Health & Development at the National Department of Health, South Africa, where he is involved in designing, coordinating and implementing South Africa’s Foreign Policy and Global Health initiatives with other bilateral and international organizations.

Moeketsi is also involved in training and capacity building in global health to bring about African voices and perspectives in global health issues. He is an Associate at the Migration and Health Project Southern Africa (maHp). He serves at various national committees such as the Inter-Ministerial Committee on Intellectual Property; the Inter-Agency Clearing Forum (IACF) and Technical Task Team on Migration. He also currently is working with various academic institutes, civil society organizations, regional and international organizations and partners in securing the right to health for migrants and other vulnerable groups in the South Africa, SADC region and globally. Moeketsi is also the Vice President of the Public Health Association of South Africa (PHASA) and holds a PhD (public health) from the University of Pretoria.

Dr. William Mapham – @vulamobile
Dr. William Mapham is a specialist ophthalmologist and CEO of Vula Mobile. He has served as the Vice Chair of the Rural Doctors Association of South Africa (RuDASA) and previously spent time in New York and Washington designing mobile phone applications for healthcare. He has published academic articles on the role of innovation and technology in improving healthcare delivery and has extensive experience in rural health care. Vula is the brainchild of Mapham, who conceived the idea for the app while working at the Vula Emehlo Eye Clinic in rural Swaziland. He experienced first-hand the difficulties faced by rural health workers when they need specialist advice. The aim of the app is to give health workers – particularly those in remote rural areas – a tool that helps to get patients quick and efficient specialist care.

Dr. Marc Slabbert – @slabbert_marc
Dr. Marc Slabbert is the CEO of a future healthcare service provider of integrated solutions for the next generation, focusing on geographically-agnostic evidence-based services to all patients. AretaHealth (#AretaHealth) is creating a 360º Patient-Centric network of inter-connected Specialist Day Hospitals in Southern Africa, augmented with remote clinics and patient in-home monitoring.

Plans to establish 12 SDH’s within a 7 year period are well advanced. Its first license has been achieved to provide a 40 Bed, 4 Theatre facility offering Hybrid and Minimal Invasive Surgical Techniques as well as a range of specialised service propositions on the North coast of KwaZulu Natal and the Eastern Cape, South Africa.

Manish Sharma – @msharmas
Manish is a digital health entrepreneur and found of HCITexperts in India. He has experience in various health IT companies offering services such as EHR, Patient Portals, Patient Kiosks, Mobility solutions for doctors, nurses and patients and remote monitoring frameworks. He has trained and lead teams to build digital health solutions for clients in India, South-East Asia, Africa, the Middle East & America.

The HCITExperts‘ blog is an effort to form a collective of multi-disciplinary experts who share their expertise with startups in India to enable innovative solutions that improve enable healthcare delivery. It also offers the doorway to network with global experts to improve knowledge and solutions that can be implemented in India.

Blessed Tabvirwa – @blestab
Blessed Tabvirwa is a Senior Programmer at MEDITECH South Africa. He received his BSc Honours in Computer Science from Midlands State University (Zimbabwe), in June 2005, before going to start working as an intern Developer/Analyst in August of the same year at Aerotel. He moved up the ranks to eventually become a Systems Analyst before moving onto Cyberplex Africa as a Project Management Officer for a year; Blessed then moved to Durban, South Africa, where he worked as IT Support professional for a Pathology laboratory, during which time he designed and developed a custom web-based Lab Management System used for the day-to-day running of the Lab. He later on moved to Johannesburg to join an established web development firm where he worked as a Senior Web Developer for 2 years before later on joining MEDITECH in January 2012 as a Support Programmer; He has been with MEDITECH since and continues to grow in his understanding of the healthcare industry as well as in his knowledge and passion for MEDITECH Technologies. Blessed is currently based in Gauteng with his beautiful wife Isobel and son Tyrecea.

Danielle Siarri – @innonurse
Danielle has a Master of Science in Nursing Informatics and is a registered nurse with experience ranging from hospital setting of transplants and trauma to case manager in the corporate environment. Danielle is a contributor to the Philips Innovation Matters Blog, Microsoft Intel in Health Nurse Blog, Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), the European Union of HIMSS and LinkedIn published author. Danielle is very active on social media and is #44 of the Top Health Information Technology 100 (HIT100). Danielle is a regular contributor to tweet chats for Kareo, Health IT Chicks, HIMSS, and European HIMSS. Danielle is on the steering committee for HIMSS African-American special interest group. Danielle has been social media ambassador for ehealthtallinn in Estonia, HIMSS 2017, HIMSS Europe WoHIT 2016 in Barcelona, and HIMSS Europe eHealthWeek 2017 in Malta. Danielle is a co-chair of the social media committee for American Nursing Informatics Association and presented the first American Nurses Credentialing Center accredited Social Media workshop for advanced practice nurses in New Orleans, Louisiana in 2017. She is the owner and publisher of http://innonurse.info a forward-thinking Health IT curation website. Furthermore, Danielle is a Health IT consultant who advises firms of all sizes. Danielle has worked in seven different states as a travel nurse. She has done extensive travelling to 30 countries exploring emergency room hospital setting and EMRs. Danielle leads by example and believes in forwarding innovation in the healthcare industry.

André van Zyl – @DrevanZyl  
André is a public health professional with a keen interest in the use of technology in health service provision. He believes that technology could be used to achieve health for all by, making education more accessible and affordable, improving population-wide health communication, mobilising health resources, and by ensuring efficient resource utilisation.

His academic career started with studying psychology and sociology at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU). He obtained his Master’s in Public Health (MPH) degree at the University of Pretoria.

In 2016, he started the Health Information and Technology Special Interest Group (HIT SIG) under the umbrella of the Public Health Association of South Africa (PHASA). He is currently serving on the executive committee of the PHASA and is chairing the Special Interest Groups Committee. André is employed at Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University (SMU) as a data manager on a research project. He would like to continue with research on using mobile technology to promote maternal and child mental health.

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