In line with its mandate to support healthcare workers in South Africa and ensure that they provide patients with top-of-the-line care, the Knowledge Translation Unit (KTU) has launched an updated version of the widely anticipated Adult Primary Care (APC) clinical tool.
Well-thumbed copies of the guide are considered the bible for primary care by many healthcare workers on the frontline. This comprehensive, integrated clinical support tool summarises the latest guidelines and policies across multiple clinical programmes, as set out by the National Department of Health (NDoH).
The KTU, based in the University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Department of Medicine, has been hard at work alongside its partners – the NDoH, and TB HIV Care, a non-profit organisation committed to finding, preventing and treating TB and HIV, to bring those on the frontline an integrated, consolidated, and accessible version of the APC tool. Since its launch in 2013, use of this clinical tool has scaled across the country at a rapid pace – fulfilling its promise to make life easier for thousands of overburdened healthcare workers.
During the launch of the 2023 version of the APC, held virtually earlier this month, Jeannette Hunter, the deputy director general of Primary Health Care at the NDoH, thanked the KTU for their longstanding partnership and recognised the APC as the main enabler of the department’s integrated clinical service model, which aims to streamline care for adults with diverse chronic conditions and needs.
“The launch of the updated version of the APC is very exciting as it marks 10 years of working at scale across this country.”
The KTU director, Professor Lara Fairall, said she is proud of this achievement.
“The launch of the updated version of the APC is very exciting as it marks 10 years of working at scale in this country. We are honoured to be able to continue our support of frontline workers and to help make their jobs easier [as they] serve their patients and communities,” Professor Fairall said.
A single, practical implementation tool
The APC tool is a symptoms-based, single, practical implementation tool and uses a series of algorithms and checklists to guide healthcare workers as they manage common symptoms and chronic conditions in adult patients and prescribe and dispense medication. These conditions include HIV and AIDS, TB, non-communicable diseases, as well as mental health and women’s health disorders.
Further, it aims to align medication with the NDoH Standard Treatment Guidelines and Essential Medicines List for Primary Healthcare. The tool also uniquely colour-codes medication to indicate prescriber levels.
To interpret the algorithms, navigate the clinical tool’s pages and best support their patients with up-to-date, evidence-based and informed care, Fairall said nurses must participate in the APC clinical tool training programme, where they receive coaching on how best to use and understand the guidelines.
In the pipeline
To ensure the clinical tool reaches as many healthcare workers in all nine provinces timeously, Fairall said multiple print-run plans are already afoot. And for those who prefer a digital version, she said an e-book option is available for use on laptops and mobile phones.
“We are proud of where we’re at and we look forward to supporting healthcare workers in this way for a long time to come.”
Fairall said the KTU, which runs its research activities from the Department of Medicine and its service work from The Health Foundation of South Africa, is continuously seeking new ways to innovate and test improvements to the APC. This includes adding a version aimed at adolescent and youth currently in the pilot phase, and an optimised version for people living with multiple long-term conditions. The latter, she said, is being trialled in the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.
“Additional work is ongoing. But for now, we are proud of where we’re at and we look forward to supporting healthcare workers in this way for a long time to come.”
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