Progress towards unique patient identification and case-based surveillance within the Southern African development community

By  Kerensa Govender  Dr. Lawrence Long  Dr. Jacqui Miot  |  | 

Population mobility makes patient-tracking and care linkage in the South African Development Community (SADC) challenging. Case-based surveillance (CBS) through individual-level clinical data linked with a unique patient-identifier (UPI) is recommended. We conducted a mixedmethods landscape analysis of UPI and CBS implementation within selected SADC countries, this included: (1) SADC UPI implementation literature review; (2) assessment of UPI and CBS implementation for high HIV-prevalence SADC countries; (3) UPI implementation case-study in selected South African primary healthcare (PHC) facilities. Research into CBS and UPI implementation for the SADC region is lacking. Existing patient-identification methods often fail and limit patient-tracking. Paper-based records and poor integration between healthinformation systems further restrict patient-tracking. Most countries were in the earlymiddle stages of CBS and faced UPI challenges. Our South African case study found that the UPI often goes uncaptured. Difficulties tracking patients across prevention and care cascades will continue until a functional and reliable UPI is available.

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Health Informatics Journal