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

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment 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.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
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.
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.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid