Technology provides the foundation for public sector organisations to accelerate service delivery through infrastructure architecture, at both the hardware and software level.
That’s the view of Edgar Mabothe, district manager: Public Sector and Telco, EMC Southern Africa.
“We are currently in the process of presenting a solutions and services framework to government which will enable access to applications across the service delivery spectrum,” Mabothe says. “This will speed up citizens’ access to services, so that there is no need to wait for a response.”
The use of software-driven environments across various government departments will eliminate the need for citizens to physically engage with their government, enabling the use of technology to access services instantaneously and remotely. This means that millions of citizens will be able to access government services via multiple applications, using various devices, regardless of geographic location. The result: a massive positive impact on government’s ability to deliver services to its citizens.
Commenting on ways in which technology has already assisted the public sector, Mabothe points to the introduction of e-filing of tax returns by the South African Revenue Services, (SARS) which has delivered massive improvements in productivity, efficiency and accuracy.
“In fact, SARS is one of the better-performing state-owned entities, purely because of its willingness to embrace technology,” he says.
Healthcare is another sphere in which progress is being made, with a number of government and private sector hospitals moving away from the use of cumbersome, manual, paper-based systems which inevitably result in long, time-consuming queues before patients receive treatment.
According to Mabothe, the technology is available to introduce a paperless system which would shorten the queues by providing hospital administration staff with electronic access to patients’ files.
“Effective, enabling IT for integrated healthcare should be patient-centred, encompass structured and unstructured patient data, use common definitions and standards, be accessible to all parties, and be able to extract and analyse information,” he says.
“Information is going to be the connective tissue of integrated care service delivery that spans the entire health value chain to provide more appropriate services to patients.”
EMC’s Integrated Patient Record (IPR) solution enhances existing patient information by aggregating, sharing and optimising data to provide a complete, patient-centric view. This not only reduces costs, but results in healthier patients and enables regulatory compliance as well as improved privacy.
“There’s no doubt that effective public health interventions and policies that target chronic diseases lead to a healthier population with lower healthcare spending, less school and workplace absenteeism, increased economic productivity and an improved quality of life,” Mabothe says. “Our mission is to improve care by making patient data accurate and available, which will lead to better informed choices and empowered patients.”
In fact, there is a wide range of offerings available to government as it determines the potential of IT to create new opportunities for real business transformation. The challenge, however, is to maximise the public sector’s vast investment in infrastructure, applications and solutions to provide optimal value.
Difficulties arise when access to information is restricted as it resides in silos. Information silos extend governance and compliance risks and create costly delays, for example in the completion of audits.
In addition, public sector organisations struggle to contain costs when they maintain applications and pay for infrastructure solely to be able to access information which resides on that infrastructure.
This is particularly relevant for government agencies as they continue to accelerate the provision of service delivery. Citizens’ access to information and their interaction with governments will be driven by the ability of these agencies to exploit the efficiencies of their IT environments.
“As citizens become increasingly sophisticated in their daily interactions with technologies, governments need to ensure that they keep pace with such advancements. Furthermore, the ability of governments to manage the plethora of data that is generated on a daily basis and draw intelligence from that data to make meaningful decisions will drive their success,” Mabothe says.
“Public sector organisations need more relevance in what they do, they need to do more with less and make better use of existing information. And to do that, they need agile platforms to develop and enhance rapid new solutions – not in two to five years, but in the shortest possible timeframe.”