Tamil Nadu

Tamil Nadu to store patient data in cloud

Records of patients of medico-legal cases are kept for eight years.

Records of patients of medico-legal cases are kept for eight years.   | Photo Credit: XiXinXing

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At present, government hospitals destroy the details after three years

As part of the ongoing e-office mission, the Department of Health and Family Welfare will digitise the patient data in all government hospitals and allied institutions in the State for future reference and research purposes.

Confirming this to The Hindu, State Health Secretary Beela Rajesh said the digitisation and storage of patient data in cloud environment would be implemented under the Hospital Management Information System.

After going through a presentation on the concept in Australia recently, she said the department was looking at having a collaboration with competent IT organisations to develop the software and launch the programme as early as possible.

The department now fiollows a decade-old policy by destroying records after three years, which deprived patients or their kin from seeking copies of the treatment protocol after the stipulated time frame.

Tamil Nadu has over 1 lakh medical, para-medical and other employees, who serve an average of 6.5 lakh outpatients and 70,000 in-patients. It has 24 medical college-attached hospitals and six more were sanctioned this year.

Last year, 4.5 lakh outpatients and 54,107 patients were treated in the Arignar Anna Government Hospital of Indian Medicine, Chennai, that provides Siddha, Ayurveda, Unani, Homoeopathy and Yoga & Naturopathy method of healthcare.

Data unavailable

In July 2018, five years after Balsamy of Vadipatti in Madurai district died, his son P. Gnanasekaran petitioned the Government Rajaji Hospital authorities seeking details of the doctor who performed a surgery on his father, the treatment protocol and the discharge summary.

The Public Information Officer (PIO) replied that the records were not available since they were more than three years old.

The petitioner approached the Tamil Nadu Information Commission, where the hospital’s public authority, the Department of Health and Family Welfare, submitted that the retention period of records was only three years.

State Information Commissioner S. Selvaraj then directed the PIO to send a copy of the ‘minutes of meeting’ chaired by the Additional Secretary (Health) on July 21, 2008, in which such decision was taken to the petitioner and closed the case since there was nothing to enquire further. This is just one of the dozens of petitions that Government Hospitals across the State receive, either directly or under the RTI Act, from people seeking patient records.

Enquiries with Health Department officials revealed that storage of patient documents for more than three years was a problem owing to space constraints. However, in case of medico-legal cases, patient records were being maintained for eight years, a senior government doctor said. Digitisation of records, as being done in corporate hospitals, would help in research and development programmes, besides sharing of required data with the public and law-enforcing agencies, he added.

With the State government rolling out the e-office policy, the scope for automation has widened in the administration of government hospitals. Asked for his comment, Principal Secretary to Government, Information Technology, Santosh Babu said the e-office policy was not only aimed at paperless file movement, but also at e-archiving of documents.

Adequate cloud space had been provided for the purpose of storing data. However, it was left to the individual departments to decide on the maintenance and destruction of records, he said.

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Printable version | Dec 12, 2019 2:26:45 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/tn-to-store-patient-data-in-cloud/article29875625.ece

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