The southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu is digitizing all patient records in public hospitals and linking them to a central data base.
Each patients will be assigned a unique Patient Identification Number (PIN). At the click of a mouse, the entire medical history, medicines prescribed and treatment recommended for the patient would unroll before the eyes of the examining doctor.
The Hospital Management Information System (HMIS) is expected to revolutionise healthcare in the state, it is hoped.
Along with the digitisation of patient records at all government hospitals in the state, the government also plans to adopt the same process in pharmacies as well. The system will also update the stock of medicines immediately.
The Rs 35 crore project, funded by the World Bank, is part of a Rs 550 crore project being implemented by the Tamil Nadu Health Systems Project (TNHSP), led by project director S Vijayakumar. A pilot project is already running in five hospitals for almost two years — in Tambaram, Colachel, Padmanabhapuram, Sholingur and Sriperumbudur.
"The first phase of implementing HMIS will begin in about four months. By the end of the year, all the 270 secondary level government hospitals will be connected," PWC Dawidar, state IT secretary, told T.K.Rohit of the Times of India. Once the system is stabilised, the state may even do away with manual registers.
The HMIS application consists of two parts — a Health Management System (HMS), which encompasses patient services, and the Health Management Information System (HMIS), which will cover the collection of data.
HMIS will collate data on trends in diseases on a weekly, monthly, quarterly and yearly basis, which would help decision-makers frame suitable policies to address these issues. "This will help us understand morbidity and epidemiology patterns," Vijayakumar said.
Dawidar said the pilot project had helped them sort out major challenges like problems of connectivity, power and even keeping the application simple for the hospital staff to use. "The large amount of data the hospitals will be dealing with will not be an issue, as we have enough capacity," he said.