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Paper-Free Hospitals Key Challenges

For the past few years, Telangana health authorities have been striving hard to make all State-run hospitals paper-free. While there have been several challenges and setbacks in implementing the scheme, the fact also remains that an error-proof hospital management system should be an integral part of the healthcare services. While corporate hospitals have taken major leaps in this direction, the State-run hospitals are yet to introduce the reform that would empower patients, by making the system transparent. Almost all the top private super-speciality hospitals in Hyderabad have highly specialised and tailor-made management systems, which allow a smooth flow of its services and establish a synergy between the hospitals management, administration, healthcare services and diagnostic facilities.

e-HMS in Telangana

In its attempts to adopt technology and improve healthcare services, the State health authorities in 2016 decided to introduce e-Hospital Management System (e-HMS) in government hospitals.
To begin with, a pilot project was launched at an Area Hospital in Malakpet, District Hospital in King Koti and State-run tertiary healthcare facility at Gandhi Hospital. For the past two years, the entire software behind the management system has been custom built ad ‘tweaked’ to suit the need of State-run hospitals. In fact, the e-HMS at Gandhi Hospital is highly evolved and is capable of ‘live-tracking’ the entire laboratory services, availability of medicines at the pharmacy and even is capable of handling huge data inflow that comes with the heavy rush of patients. “We have been fine-tuning the entire e-HMS project for the past few days. The system has really matured to handle any kind of contingencies that come unannounced. The entire patient-info at all the three hospitals is digitized,” said, project manager, Center for Development of Advanced Computing (CDAC), Abdul Haleem Syed. In collaboration with the State government, the software developers at CDAC have developed a hospital management system that holds a lot of promise, in terms of making life easy for patients and doctors, if scaled-up in the entire State.

Challenges in implementing e-HMS

A majority of patients who visit super-specialty corporate hospitals in Hyderabad are more or less digitally literate and have access to smartphones and loads of mobile data. However, this is not always the case among patients who chose State-run hospitals for treatment. Almost all of the patients who get treatment at State-run Gandhi Hospital, Area Hospital in Malakpet and District Hospital in King Koti do not have the same awareness level on usage of mobile-based applications with respect to those who arrive at a private hospital. Not many patients are Internet and mobile savvy, which makes the entire hospital management system pointless. More so, the present-day protocols and workflow that is followed at State-run hospitals were being followed since 80s and need updating. Even doctors and other healthcare workers in State-run hospitals often find it hard to use a computer to access patient data or use any of the large amount of features available in e-HMS.

While a number of teaching classes were conducted to educate doctors on e-HMS, not many were able to completely adopt the technology in their outpatient and inpatient wards. A major challenge for doctors is the immense patient-load that often makes it impossible for them to use a computer while checking a patient. Typically, a general practitioner at Gandhi Hospital meets between 100 and 150 patients during his outpatient days. Senior doctors argue that it is difficult to treat such a large number of patients through hospital information system. Healthcare workers have continued to adopt and even embrace the technology as numerous skill-upgrading classes were organized.

What is e-Hospital Management System?

The e-HMS being implemented in three State-run hospitals has been designed to facilitate a smooth workflow between doctors, patients, various health departments, diagnostic laboratories and hospital management. While healthcare workers at Gandhi Hospital, out of habit, continue to use paper, the entire e-HMS system has rendered the workflow paperless. The moment patients enter the hospital and registers themselves, they are given a unique number (CR Number). The mobile numbers of patients are fed into the systems for authentication. The doctors can also access their already existing medical records on computer. “If a repeat patient is visiting his cardiologist, then the doctor will have access to the entire medical history of the patient on his computer. They simply have to log in to the e-HMS and recall the medical history by entering the unique CR Number,” explains Abdul Haleem Syed.

In the same way, the e-HMS system does away with the habit if using illegible handwriting of doctors. The doctor can directly access the availability of hospital pharmacy through the online system and then prescribe the available medicine directly. To avoid long queues, the management system also provides patients with an opportunity to book their own appointment and pick-up time of their diagnostic results from the laboratory. The software also has a feature that can enable the patients to log in to the system to download their own laboratory reports. – Telangana Today