Treating the system, Neglecting the patient: When the EMR turns into a nightmare

By Dr Robel Tadesse, MD

Treating the system, Neglecting the patient: When the EMR turns into a nightmare

Since the dawn of the 21st century, doctors working in various healthcare settings, we have witnessed the transformation of data record keeping into new frontiers. Medical professionals all over Africa has joined the different digital record systems offered to them by their hospitals.

The Ethiopian healthcare setting is also slowly but surely joining this revolution. Both public and private hospitals have made it their mission to incorporate digital record keeping in their workflow to different levels of success. There are success stories in some, but there is no single system to this day that is accepted nationally as the best one.

Of course one might argue every hospital is unique and these things must be tailored according to needs. But by definition, a hospital is a place where healthcare professionals work. Regardless of the type of the hospital or its vision and mission, the main actors are healthcare providers and their patients. The rest are rightfully labelled support staff. Of course the system has to incorporate finance and other support activities but the bread and butter is without doubt the clinical service.

Correct me if I’m wrong but in Ethiopia there is no single study conducted about the level of satisfaction of the EMR systems from the end users. Different hospitals have different terms of reference and buy these EMR systems from the shelf.

Everyone understands why these systems are important. But doctors are treating patients, not these systems. Health professionals everywhere both in public and private hospitals complain about these lackluster systems that are wreaking havoc in patient management.

I do not understand why the Ethiopian Ministry of health is not pushing for a strong, efficient, smooth, nationalized database system that has the possibility to be a source of unlimited potential.

Dr Pitish

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