January 15, 2009

Every patient’s medical history on an ID card

It will not be long before an ambitious Rs 273-crore project has government hospitals electronically connected. The pilot project had a successful run at Mumbai’s Grant Medical College and J J Hospital; now Pune’s B J Medical College and Sassoon Hospital will get the software within two months.

“It’s a unique project and has taken nine years for preparation,” says Dr Sanjay Bijwe, state project coordinator of the Hospital Management and Information system (HMIS) project. Every patient visiting a hospital will be given a unique health identity number and will have access to his or her medical history at any hospital across the state, including prescribed drug records, diagnostic tests related information, X-ray, CT Scan, MRI and allergies.

“Initially the cost was worked out to Rs 180 crore. However we realised that a lot of work will have to be done including installation of fibre optic cables and computers. For that we need an additional Rs 93 crore,” says Bijwe, who is also officer on special duty for the state’s medical education and drugs department.

All 14 government-run medical colleges and 19 affiliates will be linked though an integrated software and the move is expected to bring with it transparency in accounts as well as an increase in administrative accountability.

The software, designed by Amrita Technologies, Kochi, is a powerful one based on open source technology.

The work of laying underground cables and installing computers has started at Sassoon Hospital, and will formally come under the HMIS project in the next two months. The remaining hospitals and medical colleges in the state will get electronically inter-connected with an electronic medical records (EMR) facility in the next two years.

Though efforts to computerise all the hospitals have been on since 1998, things started rolling only in 2003. This time around, a steering committee, comprising secretaries of finance, planning, IT, medical education and drugs departments, has been formed to oversee and review the work time and again. It is expected that even the inventory management of hospitals will become more effective and transparent with HMIS.

“The storage and purchase of drugs, surgical equipment and the status of other clinical paraphernalia of hospital will come on an integrated software which can be viewed from anywhere in the state,” said Bijwe.

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