Patients with Aids and tuberculosis, who often suffer unnecessarily when their medicines are unavailable due to stock shortages at hospitals and clinics, will soon be receiving improved service thanks to new technology.
Vodacom Business is rolling out a new stock management solution in South Africa to help manage the availability of pharmaceuticals, specifically antiretroviral medication (ARVs).
Vodacom Business chief officer, Vuyani Jarana, says: “These technology systems will help ensure that stock levels are managed better and can help to ensure that ARV shortages are avoided and healthcare providers remain able to provide quality health care services to citizens.”
With approximately 3-million people on ARVs and more than 300 000 people treated for tuberculosis (TB) every year, the demands on South Africa’s health care system are huge. Supply chain management throughout the country remains one of the biggest challenges to service delivery. Continuous stock outs, incorrect ordering and unreliable processing systems lead to shortages for patients as well as wastage.
For those living with HIV and/or TB, ARVs and anti-tuberculosis treatment are lifesaving. An uninterrupted supply of these medications for public health is needed to prevent ill health and death, to control transmission and prevent resistance developing in both infections.
Vodacom Business, together with Mezzanine, has developed a mobile based, stock visibility solution (SVS) in order to enable government to increase access to medicine where it is needed, when it is needed.
The solution, developed in conjunction with Vodacom partners and health experts, is geared to address government’s strategic healthcare goals of increasing life expectancy; decreasing maternal and child mortality; combating HIV and AIDS and decreasing the burden of tuberculosis.
Jarana adds: “Supply chain management in the public sector often relies on medicine being procured centrally and distributed through several steps to the dispensing facilities that distribute medicine to patients. Predominantly paper based processes and underinvestment in information and communication technologies lead to problems with the availability of medicine at the end of the line.”
The stock visibility solution (SVS) makes a smartphone and application bundle available to dispensing facilities to capture stock levels on a daily basis. The information synchronizes in real time to a cloud-hosted server that automates alerts and reports for the benefit of various levels of supply chain management.
SVS has been rolled out to 1 240 clinics nationally and has been remarkably successful in assisting hospitals and clinics to deliver ARVs to citizens.
Mobile technology is uniquely powerful in addressing some of the biggest healthcare challenges says Jarana. “Our job is to continue to work with the government to develop relevant and innovative solutions that will meet the country’s growing need for quality healthcare services.”