The County Government of Nakuru has rolled out an electronic health register designed to improve collection, storage and analysis of health data, improve data accuracy, increase accountability and bolster the tracking of health trends.
Chief Officer for Public Health Services, Dr Daniel Wainaina, noted that with the technology, patients at the grassroots level will interact remotely with healthcare providers, thus averting costs and inconveniences occasioned by travelling while also ensuring that proper records are kept.
The system dubbed ‘Medical Social Work Service Register’ will also collect information that will be used by the county government to formulate policy, or take action such as issuing alerts on outbreaks of the diseases, thereby improving response time.
According to Dr Wainaina, the e-register that will be the first one in the Country to complement the Kenya Health Information System (KHIS) register at the National and County level will enable physicians and healthcare administrators to easily manage appointment bookings, medical billing, and prescriptions. It will also offer better guidelines on healthcare and insurance plans.
‘Medical Social Work Service Register’ will also be an online database containing information on disease burden by type and location at sub-county level. Also, there will be specialty-wise medical journal publications bearing extensive information on various disease burdens.
“This register will be a benchmark for all the other counties that will adopt to improve the quality of data captured and reported to demonstrate the input and productivity of medical social work. The e-register will be instrumental in improving the efficiency of medical social workers who have been deployed in high volume facilities across all the 11 Sub-Counties to help handle various medical social issues,” noted Dr Wainaina.
Patients will also have access to a copy of their own health information and will be custodians of whom they will share their information with. This will in turn bolster quality care for patients by doctors who will get access to the history of their patient after they consent to that.
Speaking during the unveiling of the system, Dr Wainaina stated that the County Government appreciated the role that technology plays in analyzing health trends especially at a time when the world is tackling the coronavirus pandemic adding the system will be fitted with a built-in data analytics tool to enable healthcare managers to study and analyze specific diseases like Covid-19.
With a digitized medical history, standardized to a universally accepted format, ‘Medical Social Work Service Register’ will link patients to diverse pool of general medical practitioners and specialists, offer information on insurance providers who meet particular needs as well as provide other personal health management tools.
“The solution caters for all kinds of health facilities from clinics to major hospitals. With this system on hand, all stakeholders will be equipped for better healthcare planning, improved diagnosis and more patients getting access to health care services while at the same time hospital staff will be enabled to work more efficiently and professionally,” added the Chief Officer.
Dr Wainaina said technology is vital in Kenya’s effort to achieve universal health coverage. Technology, he noted, “will be one of the major milestones in what will push Kenya and Africa firmly into the future”.
He added that inauguration of ‘Medical Social Work Service Register’ is part of the county government’s strategy to prioritize data integration, improve their interface with patients, and proactively engage patients and other healthcare services such as pharmaceutical, laboratory, and radiology.
According to World Bank data only 20 percent of Kenyans have some form of medical insurance, translating to as many as 35 million people whose medical records are either jumbled up in some file cabinet, or are non-existent.
Dr Wainaina assured Kenyans that the system has been designed to guarantee security and confidentiality of their information.
“Privacy is the core concern and we will ensure that we abide by the government’s laws as seen in the Data Protection Act. The patient is the centre stage and will give consent to anyone who has access to their digital files,” said the Chief Officer.
The County Government of Nakuru is also collaborating with a United Kingdom based software developer to automate medical records and revenue collection at all public health institutions within the devolved unit.
According to Dr Wainaina, Elephant Healthcare Turnkey Solution, headquartered in London, will initially digitize delivery of services at Bahati, Langalanga and Olenguruone Sub County Hospitals on pilot basis.
Dr Wainaina said the system has been designed to capture patient records, stock inventory, payments, insurance and reporting at all healthcare service delivery points.
He said the system allows the patient access to his or her medical records through tablet, smart phone, laptop and at cybercafés without being able to alter them whereas health practitioners are given access according to their roles in the cycle of patient care.
Elephant Healthcare Turnkey Solution has engineering and operations teams in Kenya, Pakistan and Lebanon.
Dr Wainaina said the project would complement the Department of Health Services’ efforts to automate all medical health records with the Electronic Medical Records- EMR system.
By Anne Mwale and Mercy Syombua