Unique Patient Identifier (UPID) System
The Ministry of Health in Eswatini recognized the limitations of manual medical records and embraced the implementation of an electronic health records (EHR) system to enhance patient identification and streamline healthcare processes. IHM Southern Africa, supported by UNAIDS and WHO, conducted a survey to understand the preferences for unique patient identifiers (UPIDs) among Eswatini nationals.
The survey revealed a range of preferred identification modes, including National ID, Biometrics, Bracelet, Health Passport, Smart Card, Token, and Treatment Card. These UPIDs were designed to manage patient identification, protect sensitive health information, prevent record duplication, ensure accurate treatments and prescriptions, enable proper surgical procedures, and facilitate data linkage across healthcare organizations.
Among the surveyed population, the National ID emerged as the preferred UPID option due to its durability, ease of use, and confidentiality. It was seen as a way to maintain patient integrity, ensuring dignified treatment, and promoting the best interest of patients through consultation before major health decisions. The National ID system limited access to healthcare workers, enhancing privacy and safeguarding patient information.
The implementation of UPIDs in Eswatini’s healthcare systems has significantly improved patient identification and the delivery of quality care. Standardized codes and reliable identification methods enable healthcare providers to offer appropriate treatments, protect patient privacy, and facilitate seamless data exchange between healthcare organizations. The collaboration between IHM Southern Africa, UNAIDS, and WHO has played a crucial role in advancing patient identification systems and strengthening healthcare services in Eswatini.