National Health Insurance (NHI) is a health financing system that is designed to pool funds to provide access to quality, affordable personal health services for all South Africans based on their health needs, irrespective of their socioeconomic status. NHI is intended to ensure that the use of health services does not result in financial hardships for individuals and their families.

The Health Patient Registration System (HPRS) will be a component of the NHI Information Systems. The development of HPRS commenced in July 2013 in a partnership the National Department of Health, the Department of Science and Technology and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).

 The HPRS has been developed and setup to provide Patient Registry and Master Patient Index (MPI) service using the South African Identification Number and all other legal person identification numbers such as Passport as the primary patient identifier.

The HPRS supports the tracking of utilisation and linkage to electronic health records to create a register of patients and to contribute to health sector planning, decision making and improved service delivery. This has made it possible to track patients at all levels of care for improving quality and continuity of care. 

The system will further track the beneficiaries accessing services at health facilities at different levels of care using the following capabilities: 
a) Barcode Scanning (ID Book and Driver’s License) and Biometric reader; 
b) Patient lookup (patient demographic details, facility linkage, patient file number);
 c) Generate a patient file number; 
d) Maintenance of patient details; 
e) Linkage of patient to PHC facility; 
f) Record the visit (date, time, facility, purpose); and 
g) Management information – health service provision.

The first phase of implementation has focused on PHC facilities in the Pilot Districts. To date a total of 555,139 patients were registered in 118 facilities. This system would be functional in all PHC Facilities (698) in the NHI Pilot Districts by 31 March 2016. In the next phases of implementation, the HPRS will be implemented in PHC health facilities in all 52 districts as well as in the 400 hospitals in the public sector

The HPRS will be deployed in all public PHC health facilities in all 52 districts as well as in the 400 hospitals in the public sector. Vulnerable groups, such as women, children, older persons and people with disabilities, orphans, adolescents and rural populations will be prioritised. The identification of the population with the greatest need will be based on 86 criteria consistent with the principles of NHI. South Africans that have been registered will be issued with an NHI card linked to the Department of Home Affairs’ smart identification system. The information on the NHI card will be encrypted and will be utilised to access services at different levels of the health system.