Health Information Management Systems: Why every hospital needs one

In many African countries, healthcare information systems are merely a series of inter-related data from a variety of health sources and service centres scattered across the countries. This indeed makes it very difficult to trace information when needed in its right form and in the correct time. This has allowed for inconsistencies in research based on past events and resolutions that fail to address the situations as they are.

Health/Medical information systems are built to harmonize such information, sort it in relevant categories and make it available for use in the fastest time possible without alteration to its original form. This system is a very complex and comprehensive solution for any country. Through it past mistakes can be avoided, new systems can be put in place to increase efficiency and the general healthcare system can be analysed in just a few hours to reveal loopholes and encourage progress.

Medical information systems carry a value proposition with them. They seek to offer a one stop hub of medical information where all processes and activities relating to this sector are carried out in an efficient manner in a secure place. These systems are meant to acquire, analyse and protect medical information that is key in providing high quality patient care in hospitals across the globe. The adaption of electronic health records in several countries makes it even easier to migrate to a fully-fledged medical information system in the short term.

The idea behind any information system is how you present it. This is no different for Medical Information Systems, the presentation must be user friendly both for the medical practitioner uploading or recording the information or the end user carrying out research. Use of graphics on the interface makes it easier to absorb information, understand it and make use of it for the good of the public.

A good Medical information management system (MIMS), should cover several categories to give a 360 degree approach to the medical health check of any country. Some of those categories include:

  • Patient demographics – who they are, what they do, their medical history as well as where they live.
  • Outpatient re-registration – an updated database of re-registered patients and the reasons for re-registration.
  • In patient final diagnosis – Patients full medical record during the period of admission and the final diagnosis & applied treatment.
  • Appointments – Regardless of the nature of appointment, clinical or one off, the records must be up to date.
  • Radiology – all X-ray and ultra sound records must be uploaded to the system and linked to the patient’s file in the system.
  • Operating room data – patient records, operating room requirements, medical personnel in the room, procedures and final outcome. If death occurs, state reason for death.
  • These are just some of the basic applications that must be in even the most basic MIMS.

Advantages of Health Information Management systems

  1. They are easy to manage and implement: In semi- automated hospitals, the paper document is scanned and uploaded into the database as a scanned document. It is then indexed and attached to existing patient records for storage and easy retrieval.
  2. Increased productivity: Everything is available at the click of a button. This saves time and energy that can be channelled into better service delivery for the patients.
  3. Reduction of Human error: Manual systems are prone to human error, irregular filing, missing documents and untraceable files are all manifestations of human error in document management.
  4. Creates an audit trail: Audit trails are good for any hospital because it increases security of information. If there is a break in the chain, it glares and is easily spotted and corrected. Medical information systems show date, time & username for every document uploaded. Therefore cases of misdiagnosis are easily traceable to the medical officer’s username on the system making healthcare standards increase involuntarily for the benefit of the patient.

It is imperative that all healthcare centres have an electronic healthcare system that plugs in to the national medical information management grid for resources and information sharing purposes.

Author: Josephine Wanja

Tiny Girl in a big world, with big dreams and ambitions that are larger than life. You will love my work. Find me on andreawanja@gmail.com or on twitter @josephinewanja

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