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Dienstag, 23.10.2018
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The newly introduced patients’ electronic health record system at Zambia’s highest medical facility, the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) has come as a great relief to both patients and medical staff.

For Charity Chileya, a resident of Lusaka’s Kamwala township accessing medical care from the facility was a nightmare.

The reason was simple: Accessing her medical records was the most grueling proces she underwent each time at UTH for either routine medical care or urgent medical treatment.

“The introduction of the new system on patients’ record keeping is timely in view of the deteriorating standards. I don’t know how many times I lost my file at UTH whenever I was unwell. I am so happy that this time around when I am here, I have been issued with an electronic card that will guarantee easy access to records,” Mrs Chileya said.

For Mrs Chileya, going digital is the best way for the health facilities because the process is easy and quick.

Mrs Chileya is not the only one.

Another patient, Kondwani Mtonga says the system is a perfect one in this era of technological advancement.

Mr Mtonga hopes that the electronic health record system will also be introduced in rural health facilities countrywide.

“Despite all the potential benefits of this technology, implementation of the electronic health record is concentrated in urban centers, and is lacking in rural health facilities where majority of the population lives. I hope such programmes will be introduced in rural parts too,” Mr Mtonga says.

He has one recommendation: “Government should extend the programme to rural areas, noting that this will improve healthcare delivery.”

“Like with most medical technologies that have become standard-of-care in the urban hospitals, most electronic systems are not taken to rural health facilities. I understand the cost attached and some of these systems require technical capacity on the part of the physicians and health workers in rural areas, but with time, it will be good if such advancements are extended to rural areas,” Mr Mtonga says.

A doctor at UTH who preferred not to be named, says the e-health record system is smart, reliable and efficient.

“We have seen that traditional systems are more error prone, insecure, and unreliable. In today’s world, with its huge volume of medical data, the traditional system affects the quality of service offered by doctors. We have seen how the digital systems are overtaking the traditional systems,” the doctor says.

With the use of digital systems, there is less or no chance for any data to get lost. As all the data entered is analyzed, the system makes sure that the necessary information is captured before saving the file.

“For example, consider the data for a patient. If a vital piece of information like the Date of Birth (DOB) is missed, in a traditional system, unless the doctor realizes it, there is no way that the information is re-recorded. The doctor has to wait for the nurse to gather this information from the patient, thus delaying the process of treatment. With the help of the computer, the system prompts for missing data when the update button is clicked,” the doctor says.

And Ms Joyce Kochiwe from Kanyama Clinic in Lusaka is excited that the digital system has been rolled out.

“The traditional system involves a lot of data repetition, due to misplaced or misfiled records. This is eliminated in the digital system since all records are electronically stored. Since all of the departments are centrally connected, they do not have to maintain individual records for the same patient. Each patient is identified by a unique ID, and the patient’s record can be updated using this unique ID,” Ms Kochiwe says.

Moving hospitals out of paper records and to the seamless digital connectivity has been tougher than anyone would think but government is determined to change the way things were done by going digital.

And Zambian Bloggers Network representative Richard Mulonga says the move is a progressive approach.

“The paperless patient record keeping will enhance efficiency and up to date record keeping. It will allow for permanent, accurate and easy transfer of information. It will make it easier for medical personnel to access patient records and make analyses.

The initiative will help reduce current inefficiencies, loss and damage of records. Records can be accessed from various points within the Local Area Network and even on the web,” Mr Mulonga says.

Computerization of health care data will quickly get patients’ health information where it needs to go, improve care and cut costs and time spent by both patients and health personnel.

Two weeks ago, Minister of Health Chitalu Chilufya announced that public health institutions in Lusaka will in the first quarter of 2018 go “paperless” in government’s quest to improve efficiency in the delivery of services.

Dr Chilufya says the paperless project, under the electronic health (e-health) programme, will enhance confidentiality in health facilities.

“Some health facilities in Southern and Copperbelt provinces are already paperless in their quest to strengthen delivery of services. We are determined as a sector to introduce e-health services. We will have paperless institutions in Lusaka in the first quarter of next year. This will not only improve efficiency in the way we provide health services, but also enhance confidentiality,” Dr Chilufya says.

It is hoped that the system will enable accurate and up-to-date patient data management as well as improved efficiency in patient treatment.

With current and easily accessible health information, physicians and health workers can reduce the amount of prescription errors, access patient data remotely, and communicate together effectively to provide quality care for every patient.

Like the paperless business office, the paperless hospital or medical office has for many years been viewed as a myth.

Eliminating paper, thus creating a paperless environment is a highly visible goal at all institutions countrywide.

With a growing population and an increase in the number of patients, the pressure on doctors and hospital staff has increased drastically in the last decade.

It has become very difficult for a physician to track a patient’s medical history (including past visit information, lab results, previous medications, and drug allergies) through a traditional system. It is not uncommon for patients to have labs repeated because of improper lab records.

Certainly, the solution is an Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system that medical personnel to store and retrieve information instantly.

This technology introduced will definitely change the patient-physician relationship in a few years’ time.


Autor(en)/Author(s): Doreen Nawa

Quelle/Source: Zambia Daily Mail, 07.01.2018

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