State goes high-tech to track TB patients

The government will make increasing use of technology such as smart phones and online maps in the fight against TB, the health department said yesterday.

A pilot project was being introduced in KwaZulu-Natal for health workers to use smart phones to collect patient information, said Claudio Marra of the University Research Corporation, an American non-government organisation working with the department.

Google Earth would be used to locate patients’ homes with the address the patients had given the health facility.

Then it would send a health worker with a smart phone, a phone with an electronic TB register in it, to the address, Marra said.

“When the health worker gets there he/she would be able to send all the patients’ information immediately to the department’s server.”

The department would also use the opportunity to check on all the people the patient had come into contact with.

The homes of those still waiting for their results, and those on treatment, would be marked on the system. Marra said this would help centralise patient information, and link the data to their addresses.

The pilot project would be unveiled by Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi in Durban today.

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