Claude VendetteOne Solutions, an ICT support company, is pioneering an innovative ICT-based record-keeping system to improve on operations at health facilities - which will ultimately contribute to the streamlining of processes in the health care delivery system in Uganda. The CEO, Claude Vendette, spoke to The Independent about its benefits.
What is your assessment of health service delivery in Uganda currently?
Health services in Uganda can be divided into three main categories; public, private and research. Although research should not be considered as a health delivery service, for many Ugandans this is the only way they can access health care and good medicines.
Health services in Uganda are characterized by the use of paper and pen to manage medical records. At the same facility, you will find that patients are given a different identification number, if any, at different service points, which makes it challenging to integrate patient's treatment records and for the doctors to monitor patients' medical histories.
Often, with public healthcare centers, medical drugs are not properly monitored. You find one facility with a large amount of a given drug that will expire prior to dispensing, while at another facility, patients are leaving without that particular medicine, because it is out of stock at that facility.
How does Uganda compare with other African countries on this front?
Health administration in Uganda is not very different from that in most sub-Saharan African nations. However, when it comes to the adaptation of new technologies especially in the public area, Uganda has tended to lag behind other countries.
So, how does the system being proposed by One Solutions help this situation?
The proposed solution will ensure that accurate patient medical records - including the history - are readily available to physicians and other health workers. This will be accomplished by issuing a unique medical records/identification number to each patient.
This will ensure that patients are receiving adequate follow-up based on their medical history. The system can help minimize medical mix-ups by alerting a physician if for instance there is a possible drug interaction or known allergy.
This system has the potential to reduce the administrative overheads by reducing paper and filing costs and the space to house medical records. Patients' medical history is kept in an up to date manner electronically. The hosted model at One Solutions would facilitate the implementation of a centralized patients' electronic medical records system that can be shared amongst specialists to facilitate treatment reviews.
Briefly, how does this ICT system work and how beneficial is it to potential clients?
The application is hosted at One Solutions Data Center, so each clinic and hospital doesn't need to spend on acquiring hardware and software. It is accessed through One Solutions private network - totally secure and reliable - making it transparent to the users. You simply open your computer and use it like you have the application on your computer.
Given the relatively low access levels in Uganda, how relevant are such hi-tech ICT business solutions to streamlining the efficiency of the health sector?
ICT business solutions like Clinic Master One are made available at lower cost than ever, with better support than ever thus enabling efficiency throughout the health sector.
To what extent has this system succeeded in countries where it has been used?
We have seen significantly reduced patient waiting time at healthcare centers, since the patient's medical history is retrieved at the click of a button. There has been fraud reduction in the laboratory, pharmacy and other functions. Also, it has enabled the centralization of patients' medical data that can be shared by doctors at different facilities in different locations.
Going forward, what other opportunities do you see for Uganda's health service providers to scale up the use of ICTs in the health service system?
It starts with the implementation on a large scale of applications like Clinic Master One. The user community and focus group will then regularly have the opportunity to identify improvement opportunities and the developers will make it happen.
Electronic Claims for example, is a feature to be implemented soon. Increased research would facilitate finding better ways of getting treatment, since research is best conducted on comprehensive medical records. Also, the availability of accurate statistics on medical conditions will lead to better planning for healthcare service delivery.
Where do you see the health care system in Uganda in the next five years?
In the next five years, we believe that most health facilities in Uganda will be offering electronic medical records and using information systems. New features and technology will be introduced and the paper-based system would be a thing of the past.
Where do you see One Solutions in the next few years?
One Solutions will increasingly provide IT and ICT solutions to the business community through our own infrastructure. We will continuously introduce new business solutions to Uganda and the rest of the East African region. Our network and data center infrastructure will cover all of East Africa in the next three years.
What three values do you rate as the most important in a manager?
The four values we promote for all employees no matter the level in the hierarchy are: pro-activity, reliability, innovation, and passion. When an employee becomes part of the management, we expect strong leadership and fairness in the day-to-day operations.