News / Health

Electronic Records Aid Hospitals, Patients

Art Chimes
For all of the money Americans spend on health care, electronic medical records are still far from universal in the United States.

However, a pilot project in Southern Africa suggests that replacing paper with touch screens may be a good investment in resource-poor countries.

Electronic medical records are not new in Malawi. They’ve been used to track HIV patients for about a decade. Now, a published report describes an expanded version of the program at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre.

The electronic records system called SPINE, or Surveillance Program of Inpatients and Epidemiology, was set up with three goals. One was to collect what public health officials call “baseline data,” to get a better idea of the medical problems patients are facing.

Parents and children in Malawi use health passports as a portable medical record. (Alain HY Cheng)Parents and children in Malawi use health passports as a portable medical record. (Alain HY Cheng)
x
Parents and children in Malawi use health passports as a portable medical record. (Alain HY Cheng)
Parents and children in Malawi use health passports as a portable medical record. (Alain HY Cheng)
Miguel SanJoaquin, formerly with the University of Malawi College of Medicine, says a second goal was to monitor changes in health patterns.

“For example, there are issues like how are antiretrovirals working," he said. "Are certain diseases like pneumonia going down because of the introduction of new vaccines, and so on and so forth,” he said in a telephone interview from Cambodia, where he now works.

SanJoaquin says the third benefit is directly aimed at individual patients.

In the past, he said, patients would get a handwritten discharge summary with their diagnosis and follow-up information, such as how to take their medicine.

But too often, the writing was hard to read or the information was incomplete. The new system helps patients by giving them a clearly printed discharge summary that is included in a document called a “health passport.”

“Now there is a very neat and clear prescription on a piece of paper that is attached inside their health passport for their benefit.”

SanJoaquin said the information collected gives health authorities new tools to help improve their response to epidemics and other emergencies.

On the other hand, writing in PLOS Medicine, he says that entering the data could be time consuming, and the system was hampered by power outages and hardware and software failures. And that’s in addition to the start-up cost of about $200,000, which was paid by European donors.

Miguel SanJoaquin and his colleagues didn’t do a formal cost-benefit analysis, but they say the experience in Malawi demonstrates the feasibility and usefulness of an electronic medical records system in a hospital with limited resources.

You May Like

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Judge Declares Washington DC Ban on Public Handguns Unconstitutional

Ruling overturns capital city's prohibition on carrying guns in pubic More

Pricey Hepatitis C Drug Draws Criticism

Activists are using the International AIDS Conference to criticize drug companies for charging high prices for life-saving therapies More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid