We are at digital era, where we use Information Technology to improve every aspect of our life. Right from grocery shop to military establishments exploit the power of IT to utilize their resources efficiently and improve their operational efficiency. Healthcare industry is not an exception in utilizing IT.
Digitization of Health Records
Before few decades, paperwork was dominating the maintenance of medical records in hospitals. IT was limited to testing laboratories and handling equipment only. Even now, a lot of small hospitals depend on the paper work and card files only to maintain the patient records.
Early entrants of IT in health care were large hospitals in developed countries. They made huge investments in the form of human resources and infrastructure, and developed industry standards in maintaining medical records.
In third-world countries, the technology adoption has just begun, and people started to use the IT in their everyday life. They have an advantage: they need not re-invent the wheel now; they can just adopt the previously developed systems and standards.
A lot of proprietary and open source solutions are available in handling Electronic Medical Records (EMR). A comprehensive solution will have the following modules:
- Patient Records
- Contact Records
- Prescriptions Management
- Medicine Management
- Insurance Records
- Lab Management
The patients, whether they are visiting or stay at hospitals for treatment, should be registered with their height, weight, blood group, existing health issues, etc. should be recorded for tracking the progress of their health and for future reference. Their contact details should also be recorded for further contacts and business intelligence.
Medications, tests, scans, etc. may be prescribed for the patients, and they should also be tracked. This will be useful for physicians and surgeons during later visits of the patient or in case of emergency.
Inventory of medicines and equipments should also be maintained, along with tracking of their shelf life. Pharmaceutical companies follow the standard of Batch Numbers for tracking the expiry dates of the medicines. Many of them follow international bar code standards, which can be tracked with the help of web services.
If the pharmacy inventory system is accessible by the physician, he or she can refer for availability of the medicine or find out other available medicines with the same formula.
If the hospital is a member of any insurance company’s network, patients who submit their policies or id cards should be verified with insurance company for authenticity and validity through web service.
Lab activities like testing samples, ECG, MRI Scan, X-Ray, Ultrasound Scan, etc. can also be tracked.
In an efficient EMR system, all the above modules, along with specialized implementations should be integrated together to form a fully equipped management system. This will fulfill the needs of all stakeholders: Patients, Physicians, administration, etc.