Private healthcare in South Africa is undergoing a transformation, thanks to a groundbreaking data hub that links hospital providers, patients and funders securely through a unified care record.

CareConnect, a registered non-profit organisation (NPO), is the country’s first industry-wide health information exchange (HIE). The system delivers up-to-date, real-time and consolidated information to improve the speed, quality and coordination of care.

In April 2023 CareConnect went online. The project is a collaboration between six of the country’s private hospitals groups and medical scheme administrators – Mediclinic, Netcare, Life Healthcare, Momentum Health Solutions, Medscheme, and Discovery.

It facilitates the authorised exchange of information between hospitals, clinicians and medical aids, ensuring healthcare professionals have access to a complete and up-to-date view of a patient’s health records.

A safe, streamlined experience

The aim of this system is to streamline hospital experiences for patients, ensuring their key medical information moves with them along their healthcare journey.

With CareConnect, personal health information is only shared once the patient gives consent. This information includes personal administration data, date of admission or procedure and key clinical medical history, including previous hospitalisations, procedures, discharge diagnoses, chronic illness and medications.

Secure sharing of information streamlines the admission process and reduces paperwork. It doesn’t cost the patient anything and the system can also reduce the repetition of unnecessary tests and ensure your healthcare professionals understand your individual needs.

Treating teams and the patient’s medical aid can access the patient’s consented information. This information is stored safely and never shared with unauthorised third parties.

"For patients, access to the HIE can mean the difference between life and death in an emergency situation."

Benefits for patients and healthcare staff

At its launch earlier this year, CareConnect CEO Dr Rolan Christian described the electronic information hub as a significant milestone in the healthcare industry.

“The CareConnect HIE will allow clinicians to access up-to-date, real-time, consolidated clinical information about their patient’s journey across the healthcare ecosystem, improving the speed, quality and coordination of care,” explains Dr Christian.

“For patients, access to the HIE can mean the difference between life and death in an emergency situation or when travelling. The treating doctor will be able to access critical, up-to-date health information in real time, on any device, be it a laptop, mobile phone or tablet, wherever they are.”

Secure and confidential approach

Dr Christian says privacy, confidentiality and information security are the cornerstone of CareConnect HIE.

The HIE complies with the laws that govern processing of personal information, the protection of personal information, patient or member consent, as well as data protection.

“Information remains protected at all times and may only be accessed by verified medical practitioners and other authorised individuals when medically necessary and only with a patient’s consent. Patients are also able to revoke their consent at any time. 

Streamlining healthcare

HIEs, used worldwide by some of the most advanced health systems to improve the health and healthcare journey for patients, replace the traditional siloed approach to healthcare with an integrated and holistic one.

CareConnect shows how access to data-driven insights can revolutionise healthcare by streamlining the admission and care process, which leads to better outcomes.

Health data sharing is a crucial aspect of effective healthcare and benefits everyone, from patients, to healthcare systems, to the general public.

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