The Kenyan government is looking to computerise the country’s entire health records in a bid to make health care more affordable and easily accessible, says Ministry of Information and Communication permanent secretary, Dr Bitange Ndemo.
Digital medical records will help cut costs by eliminating duplication of tests as patients’ records will be available online. Dr Ndemo noted this will see hospitals make the records of patients available online for access from anywhere in the country.
Speaking at Kenya Medical Association Scientific Conference last week Friday, Dr Ndemo said the government has already started a pilot programme at Kenyatta National Hospital(KNH) expected to take up to one year — to prepare for a countrywide rollout of the digitalization strategy.
The initiative that involves conversion of health records into soft copy, as well as inter-linking health centres will ensure the records are stored in digital format making it easy to provide statistical information for monitoring the country’s health sector.
It will also enable easy forecast and ample preparations against health epidemics as the electronic records will be kept at national data centre to provide medical researchers with consultation prospects with doctors from other countries.
The initiative will also make it possible to access the health professional’s resumes and achievements including number of surgeries, research projects and specialisation.
Kenya is set to be among Africa’s few countries to have digitized hospital records. Countries like Botswana have already started the initiative: Botswana’s Bokamoso Private Hospital in 2010 established a fully integrated Electronic Medical Record (EMR) that allows for a paperless workflow environment.
The government of Botswana has since been actively involved in digitilisation inititiaves including starting radiology information system (RIS) and picture archiving and communications system (PACS) to provide filmless diagnostic imaging services found in world-class hospitals.
Kenya’s digitalisation programme will also include an electronic medical supplies procurement system focused on making purchasing medical supplies more efficient and affordable.