Design and implementation of an affordable, public sector electronic medical record in rural Nepal

Anant Raut, Chase Yarbrough, Vivek Singh, Bikash Gauchan, David Citrin, Varun Verma, Jessica Hawley, Dan Schwarz, Alex Harsha Bangura, Biplav Shrestha, Ryan Schwarz, Mukesh Adhikari, Duncan Maru

Abstract


Introduction

Globally, electronic medical records are central to the infrastructure of modern healthcare systems. Yet the vast majority of electronic medical records have been designed for resource-rich environments and are not feasible in settings of poverty. Here we describe the design and implementation of an electronic medical record at a public sector district hospital in rural Nepal, and its subsequent expansion to an additional public sector facility.

Development

The electronic medical record was designed to solve for the following elements of public sector healthcare delivery: 1) integration of the systems across inpatient, surgical, outpatient, emergency, laboratory, radiology, and pharmacy sites of care; 2) effective data extraction for impact evaluation and government regulation; 3) optimization for longitudinal care provision and patient tracking; and 4) effectiveness for quality improvement initiatives.

Application

For these purposes, we adapted Bahmni, a product built with open-source components for patient tracking, clinical protocols, pharmacy, laboratory, imaging, financial management, and supply logistics. In close partnership with government officials, we deployed the system in February of 2015, added on additional functionality, and iteratively improved the system over the following year. This experience enabled us then to deploy the system at an additional district-level hospital in a different part of the country in under four weeks. We discuss the implementation challenges and the strategies we pursued to build an electronic medical record for the public sector in rural Nepal.

Discussion

Over the course of 18 months, we were able to develop, deploy and iterate upon the electronic medical record, and then deploy the refined product at an additional facility within only four weeks. Our experience suggests the feasibility of an integrated electronic medical record for public sector care delivery even in settings of rural poverty.

Keywords


electronic health records; implementation research; global health; Nepal; open source technologies; health systems strengthening

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References


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.14236/jhi.v24i2.862

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