Gauteng hospitals go hi-tech to manage beds

The electronic bed management system unveiled by Gauteng department of health is set to eliminate patients having to wait for up to 36 hours for a hospital bed or dying while ambulances drive around trying to locate a hospital with an available bed.

Health MEC Qedani Mahlangu launched the R20-million e-bed management system as part of healthcare modernisation at Steve Biko Academic hospital in Pretoria on Tuesday.

Gauteng hospitals manage an average of 27.7-million patients annually and have been plagued by a shortage of beds.

“The introduction of this system is part of initiatives by the department to improve healthcare provision through technology‚” Mahlangu said.

 The Steve Biko academic hospital started piloting the project earlier this year to deal with the problem of a shortage of beds.

The system has since been rolled out to hospitals under the Steve Biko Academic hospital cluster: Tembisa hospital‚ Tshwane district hospital‚ Kalafong hospital‚ Mamelodi hospital as well as the Pretoria West hospital.

The Google-based data storage system allows medical staff to seamlessly identify the location of available beds across the cluster‚ improving patient movement and management.

Using innovative cloud-based technology‚ the system allows hospital staff to view current bed availability within their hospital on large display monitors‚ through the internet‚ on their mobile phones or a computer.

The department’s spokesperson‚ Steve Mabona‚ said during the pilot phase the system had proved successful and that a decision was taken to roll it out across the cluster.

“Hospital staff and management have commended the new system. Hospital personnel are using the information gleaned from the eBMS to make both long and short term decisions that have led to some hospitals seeing a reduction in patient waiting times and better ward and staff utilisation‚” he said.

Mabona said the system was linked to the Gauteng Emergency Services‚ which would use the system when transporting a critical patient or a patient from an accident scene to ensure the hospital the ambulance was taking the patient to had an available bed.

The department said it was anticipated that the system would be rolled out to all hospitals across the province by the end of the year.