Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Tarlac expands use of hi-tech health info system

TARLAC CITY, TARLAC—After the successful pilot test of a high-tech health information system called the Wireless Access for Health (WAH), the province of Tarlac is expanding its use to the entire province by end of the year. The Department of Health (DOH) and the Tarlac Provincial Health Office partnered with device chip manufacturer Qualcomm to expand the use of WAH to all its 38 health provincial clinics. The project makes Tarlac the first province in the country to have all its public health centers wirelessly interconnected to run its health information system. WAH, which is part of Qualcomm's global Wireless Reach Initiative, was initially run in four health centers of Tarlac City in 2009. It expanded to 21 clinics, serving over 1,500 patients a day. Last April, about 109,000 patient consultations were made via the system, making healthcare provisioning easier for the province. The WAH project builds on the existing Philippine Field Health Service Information System (PHSIS), which is the government's standard paper-based method for health records management for all its public health offices. PHSIS uses the WAH system to electronically record patient records and wirelessly transfer them to a central database using the 3G network. WAH also incorporates the Community Health Information Tracking System (CHITS) developed by the University of the Philippines. CHITS is a set of procedures in recording and storing patient health database. Along with the expansion of the system, the provincial government will also experiment on using two wireless applications, the Mobile Midwife and SPASMS (Synchronized Patient Alert via SMS). The latter allows medical health workers to take patient records electronically using their smartphones, tablet PCs, or laptops. The data can then be sent to the CHITS database. Meanwhile, SPASMS is an automated, SMS-based alert system that sends patients information from basic health tips to medical health news. “The WAH initiative is a means to deliver quality health services to clients, aid health workers and local and national governments by promoting data-driven planning and sound decision-making,” said Tarlac Provincial Health Office Head Dr. Ricardo P. Ramos. The program also helps local leaders and health workers in identifying and preventing disease outbreaks through preventive care, strategic health promotions and advocacy campaigns, added Ramos. Qualcomm Philippines Director of Business Development Mantosh Malhotra noted that healthcare is one of the priority projects of the Philippine government and as such, must use technology to provide services to Filipinos. “WAH demonstrates the extraordinary benefits that 3G wireless connectivity can bring to underserved communities, particularly in the area of wireless health care. We hope that what has been achieved so far will encourage the expansion of this innovative network to benefit Filipinos,” Malhotra said. ***