Software piloted ahead of e-Health initiative

The gynaecology OP clinics at SAT Hospital can be a chaotic affair, to say the least. A far cry from the paediatric OP clinics just along the corridor, which now mostly wear a deserted look. Not because there are no patients but because they are better managed, through a software and a system of Electronic Medical Records (EMR), being piloted in paediatrics and paediatric surgery departments at SAT Hospital.

The project is being positioned as the basic component of the soon-to-be launched e-Health initiative of the State government.

Just outside the paediatric OP, mothers wait with children to see the doctor. Here a large monitor displays the names of the doctors attending the day’s clinics, and the list of OP tickets assigned to each doctor. Patients go in the order in which each OP number is highlighted on the monitor. At the doctor’s end, the computer monitor displays the list of patients for the day, with indication on ‘new’ and ‘review’ patients. In the case of ‘review’ cases, the case history of the patent is displayed at a click of the mouse, including the current medication.

“The software has brought in so much order. Now, we can fully focus on patients. Even before the patient comes in, we are able to go through his/her case history and greet them by their name, which puts many parents at ease,” says V.H. Shanker, Deputy Superintendent of the hospital and Additional Professor of Paediatrics

The proof of the project’s success is its 100 per cent utilisation. Doctors say the new system has eliminated chaos through a queue management system and is time-saving

First priority

The pilot project is perhaps the first programme which looks at improving the core function in a hospital, which is patient-care.

“The programme found favour with doctors because it is a user-friendly, doctor-driven system, which helps them manage patient-care and the medical records with ease,” says C. Jayan, Additional Professor of Surgery and the nodal officer for the MCH computerisation project.

A feature of the programme is the OP queue management. “Patients coming to the OP counter can ask to be seen by their preferred consultant. If there is no preference, the system will, by default, assign them to the shortest queue. When the patient comes for the next review, the system will automatically allot him/her to the doctor seen during last visit. This ensures that a patient continues to see the same doctor every time – this continuity is critical for building doctor-patient relationship,” Dr. Jayan says.

Ashok Kumar, professor of paediatric surgery, says that the queue management system has done away with the crowding and bickering at the OP counter. “It is a relief not to have to go through dog-eared sheaves of papers to know what is wrong with the patient,” he says.

“If the system is made web-based, a patient can fix the doctor’s appointment from home using mobile phone and come to the hospital just an hour before – the endless wait in front of the clinic can be avoided,” says Dr. Jayan.

At present, only the EMR of patients coming to the OP clinics are being captured.

In-patient details and lab results also can be incorporated into the EMR by installing computers in these locations. The entire hospital is already linked by fibre-optic cable.

“The SAT Hospital pilot project will form the foundation for what we are hoping to achieve through the e-Health initiative. If we can successfully scale up the SAT model across all government hospitals in the State, it will be a very encouraging first step,” said M. Beena, Mission Director, National Rural Health Mission.