South African Hospital Receives Innovative Service Delivery Award for Implementation of Medicines Management Software

[Dihlabeng Hospital pharmacy personnel and MSH South Africa staff accepting the Centre for Public Sector Innovation award: (bottom L-R) Mrs. A. Marais, Mr. J-P. Sallet, (top L-R) Mrs. M. Khulu, Mr. M. Zuma, Mr. R. Nelson, and Mr. D. Putzier. (Photo credit: MSH) ]Dihlabeng Hospital pharmacy personnel and MSH South Africa staff accepting the Centre for Public Sector Innovation award: (bottom L-R) Mrs. A. Marais, Mr. J-P. Sallet, (top L-R) Mrs. M. Khulu, Mr. M. Zuma, Mr. R. Nelson, and Mr. D. Putzier. (Photo credit: MSH)

Dihlabeng Regional Hospital in Bethlehem, rural Free State, South Africa, recently made the jump from a paper-based system to using RxSolution for dispensing prescriptions for patients on antiretrovirals (ARVs). 

RxSolution is an integrated, computerized medicine supply management tool developed to assist pharmacy personnel to manage: purchase orders, stocks, issues to "clients" (wards, clinics), budgets by cost centers, patient records, and prescriptions to be directly dispensed to patients. 

The South Africa based team of Management Sciences for Health (MSH), with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), developed the RxSolution system.

Dihlabeng Hospital has used RxSolution for monitoring the transition of patients to new treatment, as well as monitoring supplier performance, among other things. Implementing the system made it so much easier and quicker to both dispense prescriptions and to generate information for decision making, that pharmacy personnel decided the system deserved positive recognition.

Acting on their own initiative, the hospital staff submitted the system to the Centre for Public Sector Innovation (CPSI) awards body, as they felt it was related to improving overall service delivery in the area of health.

"When we entered the award there were a couple of categories we could submit to: our first choice was the ‘Innovative Use of ICT for Service Delivery’ category," said pharmacist Almarie Marais. "And then there were others as well, like ‘Partnership between Government and NGO’." 

As a result of the hospital pharmacists’ enterprising initiative, the RxSolution system was nominated and went on to win first prize in the ICT category. In addition, the system won overall 3rd prize out of 150 entries.

These achievements underscore the dynamic collaboration between the South African government pharmacy personnel team and the MSH implementation and development team toward country ownership.

"Our aim with RxSolution was to improve medicine availability and to reduce the overall amount of expired medicines," Marais said. "Further to this we aimed to improve overall service delivery from the patients' perspective, because if medicines are readily available, it reduces patient waiting time, and the patient doesn’t need to keep coming back."

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