Access to public healthcare is a necessity to everyone. But, growing up in rural areas has always been a disadvantage in that regard, with having to travel many kilometres in order to receive any form of healthcare services. Throughout the years an introduction to health informatics has been implemented, so has technology improved 25 years into the democratic South Africa.
Rural health informatics is the study of health-care in rural environment (KARIUKI, 2016). In past year different researchers went on a journey to understand the case of selected rural areas on the Republic of South Africa (Gazana, 2015). The intention of rural health informatics is to understand the utilization of tools and practises that are available in rural health informatics which includes: midwifery, telehealth, telemedicine, nursing and critical social economic issues. (Gazana, 2015) wrote a paper which was titles the role of telehealth in enhancing health-care service in underprivileged communities: A case of Mantunzeleni, Eastern Cape. Therefore, rural health should address three crucial aspects which can enable rural areas that to have access to basic health-care which incorporates availability, accessibility and affordability.
This study examines the current state and future trends of Rural Health Informatics, 25 years into the democratic in South Africa. We begin by highlighting the current state and the future trends of rural healthcare informatics before outlining whether rural health Informatics has improved or regressed, 25 years into democracy.
Gaining access to enough healthcare in rural areas continues to have challenges towards people residing in the areas (Gazana, 2015). As a member who is from the rural areas, there have been challenges in those surroundings. You would find that there are minimal healthcare services, such that people meet at a middle point. This is where they gain access to the facilities and services. The disadvantage is that all villages in the surroundings, meet or seek healthcare services in one point., Therefore literature revealed that healthcare informatics in rural communities is under-served (Gazana, 2015). Poor infrastructure also holds a major challenge against proper healthcare informatics, and that is where rural and urban areas differ. The shortage of medical staff, and the distance that the people who reside in rural areas must travel all are the contributing factors to the challenges of healthcare service access (Gazana, 2015). Rural areas mostly consist of people who come from low income households and backgrounds, with elderly people in the same households who require medical assistance but are not able to get the services they need due to being poor. In order to get the best medical service in the rural areas, people must travel to the bigger cities as there are quality health services compared to the rural healthcare. For patients in the rural areas the time spent in clinics is elongated, elderly patients, regular patients, they all must wait patiently for half a day if not almost a full day in order to get medical services. The medical staff
A major issue with the current state of health informatics in the rural areas is that, one can be infected with diseases and without these proper healthcare facilities and services they are not treated at all if not incorrectly treated due to the challenges people face in the rural areas.
Research shows that 25 years into the democratic South Africa, people infected with HIV, TB to name a few, their numbers have grown rapidly, and many people infected with the viruses/diseases are not receiving proper healthcare.
One of the distinct purposes of the use of the technologies in the health sector is to improve the performance of health care services (Cillers & Flowerday, 2013). With the projection that these systems will be efficient, there are plenty of benefits to the hospitals, clinicals and patients themselves. With such projections, there would be a decrease in the long queues at the medical points in the rural areas. For public healthcare, eHealth can be classified as a very important part in the country (Cillers & Flowerday, 2013). It is believed that as much as investments are high, eHealth is projected to cut costs while saving time.
Has it improved or regressed after 25 years in democracy?
Research shows that the lack of information together with quality assurance are some of the issues that hinder/ slow down the progression of rural health informatics (Ruxwana, Herselman, Pottas, & Ouma, 2010). With six district hospitals in the Eastern Cape introduced to Telemedicine in the previous years, the underutilisation of the technology has not produced the desired results because the system was either not used at all (Cillers & Flowerday, 2013). The underutilised technology or no use gives reason to believe that the users are not properly informed on how to make use of the technology. Research shows that, the technology has been reported as unreliable because of infrastructure issues that included low bandwidth, and poor connectivity. Such issues can be expected when the ICT infrastructure not up to standard. When it is below the technologies standard the produced results will of course show that. That is why the evidence of the produced results is diverse.
The rural areas are short staffed when it comes to medical staff and are low on medical resources. These hinder the health care service delivery in rural areas (Cline & Luiz, 2013). In order for the healthcare facilities to provide proper service delivery, there are many challenges that still need to be addressed (Gazana, 2015).?