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Feeling ill? Gauteng's new health app Mpilo will help you

19 September 2019 - 06:00 By MPUMZI ZUZILE
The Gauteng health department has launched an app to improve patients' experiences at facilities in the province.
The Gauteng health department has launched an app to improve patients' experiences at facilities in the province.
Image: Bakhtiar Zein / 123rf

The Gauteng health department has launched an app in a bid to improve waiting times and resolve complaints faster, MEC Bandile Masuku said on Tuesday.

The launch of the new digital platform, called "Mpilo, healthcare in your hands" [mpilo means "health" in Xhosa] coincided with Masuku’s 100 days in office.

He said the app would improve the quality of patients' experiences and speed up the resolution of complaints at the department's health facilities. It also allows for users to share compliments and suggestions. Patients reporting incidents of fraud and corruption will be able to remain anonymous.

“Mpilo is designed to improve the patient experience in our facilities by providing a smart and interactive platform for users to report waiting times in facilities, safety issues, staff attitudes and cleanliness of facilities,” said Masuku.

“Mpilo has a geolocation feature that helps users find the nearest health facility,” he added.

The app, which is already available, is free and only requires users to have data. It is available on both Android and iOS.

"The app is phase one of our process to digitalise health," explained Masuku.

The new Gauteng health app, Mpilo.
The new Gauteng health app, Mpilo.
Image: Screenshot

"Phase two will be using unstructured supplementary service data (USSD) codes, which will be introduced to accommodate users without smartphones.”

Masuku said hundreds of staff members would be responsible for processing the complaints received.

"A complaint will be dealt with at facility and at head office level. We will be able to monitor how long ago a complaint was laid and how long it took for our members to respond to it," said Masuku, promising that the turnaround time for dealing with complaints would be cut from 25 days to less than a day.

The MEC acknowledged that his department was dealing with a range of complaints, from long waiting times to poor infrastructure.

“In terms of improving patients’ experience of care and raising staff morale, we are putting in place a plan for not only five but 10 hospitals that will get special upgrades in the current financial year,” he said.

He said they have also visited 19 facilities across the province to engage with healthcare workers and patients on the state of facilities.

“This has enabled us to have greater understanding of the issues from a direct and personal vantage point. Some of the problems identified were resolved within days, while others are incorporated in our improvement plans,” he said.

He added that a total of 1,974 posts would be filled by the end of this financial year.

Masuku could not say how many patients have already downloaded the app. “We are going to start a campaign to ensure that patients and communities download the app,” he said.

Last week, Gauteng infrastructure MEC Tasneem Motara announced that hospitals in province will undergo major refurbishments as part of the provincial government's efforts to deal with infrastructure backlogs at health facilities.

More than R2bn had been set aside to refurbish 32 hospitals in Gauteng in the current financial year.

Motara said the refurbishment would differ from one hospital to another and was in response to assessments, which showed serious infrastructure challenges at health facilities.

“We are confident that our plans resonate with the needs of our people and we will stop at nothing to achieve better health outcomes,” she said.