- Govt plans to introduce a Shared Health Records (SHR) system in hospitals
- Under SHR system, patients will get unique digital IDs
- History of diseases, doctors' appointments, treatments will be stored in IDs
- Records will be shared across hospitals
- Online appointment system will be launched for patients
- Telemedicine activities will be strengthened
- The system will reduce irregularities in healthcare, ensure better services
- Health experts suggest inclusion of private hospitals in the SHR system
The government has planned to introduce Shared Health Records (SHR) – a digital record of a patient's health information shared between healthcare providers – in public hospitals across the country. The modernised system will reduce hassle for patients and doctors, as well as bring transparency and quality to healthcare services.
Under the proposed programme, a central database will be created for storing health information of patients. Each patient will get an identification number under which the patient's medical records – diseases, doctor's appointments and treatment history – will be stored digitally and this electronic data will be accessible by all hospitals at any time.
According to sources at the Directorate of General of Health Services (DGHS), the system has already been piloted in some hospitals. Now a project will be taken to introduce it in 623 hospitals at upazila and district levels across the country at an estimated cost of Tk1,770 crore.
The project proposal has already been sent to the Planning Commission for approval. Once approved, the project will be implemented in about two years, sources said.
Due to this central health record, a patient will not have to provide their history to doctors while visiting public hospitals for a second time, reducing the hassle for both the patient and the physician.
The DGHS believes that medical services will be available quickly and easily and the quality of services will improve.
According to the project proposal, this programme has already been successfully tested in 53 hospitals using an open-source software called OpenMRS+ (Open Medical Record System).
If this technology-based health system is introduced, the healthcare service sector will become corruption-free, as well as cost-effective, according to the proposal.
An online appointment system will be launched for patients based on their IDs. Also, digital health record system will help strengthen telemedicine activities, it says.
The proposal also mentions that necessary equipment will be procured and installed in government health institutions. Moreover, some 1,03,890 service providers will be trained. Along with this, 4,458 IT manpower will be recruited.
Health experts for inclusion of private hospitals in SHR
Dr Nizam Uddin Ahmed, a public health expert and CEO of the national digital health service Shastho Batayon, told The Business Standard, "If the health system is digitised, a central health database will be created from where people can get health services easily using their IDs. This can be easily done using the NIDs we have now. That way, patients won't need to bring prescriptions during hospital visits for a second or third time as their records will be available in the digital system."
He said, "If it is implemented, people's suffering and expenses will be reduced greatly."
However, private hospitals should also be included in the central system as 70% of health services in the country are provided by the private sector. A combination of public and private sectors is essential for ensuring maximum services to patients, Nizam Uddin added.
According to health experts, it is necessary to take steps to digitise private hospitals with their own funding in coordination with the DGHS.
Some individual initiatives have already been taken by some private hospitals. One such example is "Aalo Clinic". In this clinic, every step from patient registration to prescription and test report is computerised.
Once a patient is registered, doctors can easily view their previous treatment information to schedule follow-up or future appointments. All prescriptions made by doctors of Aalo Clinic are stored in a Cloud server.
Aalo Clinic has branches at Karail slum, Duaripara in Mirpur, Shyampur Industrial Area, Dhalpur in Jatrabari, Ershad Nagar in Tongi, and Tanbazar in Narayanganj.
Another pilot project under the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and Unicef is underway to provide healthcare to Dhaka residents. The DGHS is also assisting in this.
Apart from this, the big private hospitals of the country have patient cards, which contain information about visiting patients.
Currently, around 65-67% of healthcare in the country is provided by the private sector. Public hospitals under the DGHS have 52,807 beds, while private hospitals registered with the DGHS have 90,587.