Photographed at the Annual GEMS Virtual Symposium are from left to right, Dr Phumi Dhlomo, DPSA's Acting Deputy Director-General: NLRM, Mr Dumisani Hlophe,GEMS Principal officer, Dr Stan Moloabi, Dr Ingrid Pooe and Dr Vuyo Gqola.

Public Service and Administration Deputy Minister, Dr Chana Pilane-Majake says there is an urgent need for an approach in the country’s healthcare system to enable a patient-centric healthcare experience.

Dr Pilane-Majake addressed the Annual Government Employees Medical Scheme (GEMS) Virtual Symposium 2022 about the Value Co-Creation of a Patient-Centric Healthcare System on Wednesday with the theme; “Patient-Centric Care” provides an ideal opportunity to discuss the importance of providing patients with the best possible health care experience.

“A patient-centric healthcare experience approach requires a true partnership between the individual, their family, and their healthcare provider.

“This is an approach that resonates with our “Batho Pele” [people first] public service principles. There can never be any meaningful enhancement of healthcare without the active involvement of various stakeholder including the patient and their family.  It is therefore encouraging to see the respective stakeholders, including labour, represented in the Symposium today,” she said.

Dr Pilane-Majake said the Symposium should ensure that the collaboration by all sector stakeholders finds expression in how healthcare services are administered and experienced by patients.

“The Symposium, seeks to develop innovative mechanisms and standards that healthcare sector stakeholders, in collaboration with GEMS, can use as a blueprint for best practice in rendering services to patients.

“I, therefore, call on all participants in the Symposium to come up with innovative strategies to strengthen healthcare as provided by GEMS. This needs to happen using the suggested patient-centric model for quality, affordable and equitable healthcare for South Africans as advocated for by the National Health Insurance. (NHI).

“Also important to patients is affordability of healthcare. This cannot be achieved without insight that comes with understanding patient centered economics of the healthcare sector. The program of the symposium focuses on a better health for all, inclusive of women’s health, in line with the National Development Plan (NDP) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

The core objective of the Symposium is therefore to bring together partners, who include patients, key industry role players and policymakers in the healthcare sector, in a bid to improve healthcare service delivery for public servants.

The Deputy Minister said the Covid-19 pandemic experience reminded the nation about the need to fast-track innovative, easy to access and a safe digital healthcare system.

With October being breast cancer month, the Deputy Minister said she was hopeful that the Symposium will come up with a patient-centric approach to deal with the ailment that annually takes many lives of women – resulting in mothers who leave children who are still yearning for love and care from them.

Dr Pilane-Majake said the patient-centric model that the Symposium is pursuing will further contribute to the reduction of inequities in healthcare.

“The patient-centric approach anchored on socio-economic development is but one of the ways in which such challenges can be dealt with. I am aware that there are existing digital health initiatives that have proven effective in the management of patient data in accordance with the POPI Act and requirements.

“However, we still need to ensure that patient-centric and a user-friendly interface become standard as vital aspects of a digitized healthcare service to improve patient experience. Most role players in the health sector know that there is no doubt that patient-centricity is central to the future of healthcare services. We all need to appreciate that in any change of a way of life, there will be momentary disruptions, especially where new innovation is applied,” she said.

Despite the remaining gaps in the health sector to achieve the aspired patient-centric model, Deputy Minister Pilane-Majake said there is still scope for improvement using strategies to be developed from the Symposium.

The Deputy Minister said improving patient-centricity also requires collaboration among sector stakeholders that also include patient advocacy groups and healthcare practitioners’ associations, as well as labour organisations.