February 27, 2017

Health Information Systems

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The Health Information System department gathers accurate information to enable the Clinic to efficiently plan the services and activities that it provides.

 

History and Services

In the early 2000s. HIS staff working in the office

Getting accurate information is the mission of the health information systems (HIS) department. Before the development of our electronic health information system, answering questions such as ‘how many cases of a certain disease has the clinic seen; what is the percentage of female patients; where do the clinic’s patients come from’, etc. was a challenging task. Everything had to be checked by hand and was prone to errors: a line in a thick logbook might be overlooked, a name misspelled, a diagnosis missing from the chart, or numbers added incorrectly. 

In the mid 90’s, Mae Tao Clinic started recording all the information of patients’ status in Excel spreadsheets. In 2000, the unit introduced an electronic database programme for the medical inpatient department. By the end of 2004, all departments had changed to Microsoft Access for a more centralised and better analysis of the information. This change enabled MTC to more precisely plan budgets and update donors on our impact. In 2010, the HIS began the centralisation of a database for the whole clinic.

HIS staff inputting health data

The systems in place help the detection and monitor the progress of communicable diseases, such as tuberculosis, which is yet present on the Thai-Burma border. In 2004, the Tak Public health department conducted a pilot project with MTC, helping the clinic improve its database ability to monitor 19 infectious diseases.  During a cholera outbreak in 2007, the information in the clinic’s database was used to conduct surveillance in the area.

MTC carried out a systematic review of the health information system regarding what we measure and how we measure it in 2013. In 2015, we worked with a clinical consultant, Dr Philippe Travers, and identified a large number of problems. The databases were revised and all HIS was trained. In 2017, HIS staff received a short refresher training.

 
Challenges and Success

The department is in need of continuous training programme for the staff on information database skills and database software. MTC has been in a bid to find out to digitalise the data to more accurately diagnose and prevent prevalent diseases in the area. Nevertheless, centralising data and ensuring we are able to monitor the data in a fast and reliable way remains a challenge. 

Data generated by the HIS department has been used in various purposes and our services based on the data have been recognised by the International Community more than ever in 2018. Amongst them, Dr Cynthia Maung as representative of Mae Tao Clinic won the Roux Prize 2018. The prize recognises the person who has used health evidence in bold ways to make people healthier.

Dr Cynthia Maung holding the Roux Prize trophy with founders of the Roux Prize, David and Barbara Roux. (Photo Credit: Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation)

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