[health-vn] IT underutilised by health sector
vern.weitzel at gmail.com
Tue Apr 28 23:36:00 EST 2009
IT underutilised by health sector
HA NOI — The application of information technology (IT) in hospitals has not met
expectations due to a lack of proper investment, according to the director of
the Department of Health Examination and Treatment Management, Ly Ngoc Kinh.
IT can be highly useful in treating patients, controlling finances and avoiding
losses. However, 20 years after management software was introduced in the health
sector, only 20 per cent of hospitals using it have successfully applied it.
"Some hospital managers do not properly understood the usefulness of IT in
heightening the quality of disease examination."
Kinh said 80 per cent of central-level hospitals nation-wide, 60 per cent of
provincial hospitals and 30 per cent of district hospitals have launched IT
He said many hospitals had not properly invested in IT, had no strategies or
projects about applying IT - and did not recruit enough trained IT workers.
However, Kinh said management software was of great help to many hospitals.
Using the system, each day about 700 patients were admitted to the Central
Endocrine Hospital, but everything ran smoothly.
According to the vice-head of the IT unit at the hospital, Vu Tuan Thang,
information on patients in different categories, such as those on health
insurance or those using on-demand services, can be managed systematically.
Once patient information is entered, it can be accessed to check on health
appointments, hospitalisation and payments.
"Although the number of patients is increasing, we can still carry out health
examination and treatment smoothly thanks to the management software," said Thang.
Nguyen Thanh Binh, who is in charge of finances and accounting at Ha Noi Medical
University Hospital, agreed.
"It is quite necessary for hospitals to apply management software. First, it
helps avoid loss of receipts and (confusion over) expenses. Secondly, it helps
doctors easily follow patient treatment, some of whom need to use many types of
medicine," he said.
On top of this, health examinations and costs were transparent, so each patient,
can balance their spending on the information, Binh said.
He said it was a pity not every hospital was able to improve the quality of its
service using IT.
Only three out of 100 health-care units and hospitals under the management of
Hau Giang Province’s Department of Health have an internal IT network.
Significantly, the Department of Preventive Health care and Environment,
probably the most important office in preventing and fighting disease, does not
have a website to provide information about its activities.
Nguyen Huy Nga, director of the department, said details of a recent measles
epidemic were collated by telephone.
"If IT was applied in a situation like this, reporting details on a website
would be more exact and economical for everyone," he said.
Deputy director of the Central Paediatrics Hospital, Nguyen Thanh Hai, admitted
that the application of IT in hospitals was still modest.
"It’s like a poor owner building a house, it can become a shambles," said Hai.
Ly Ngoc Kinh said only when hospital managers became aware of the importance of
IT could it be carried out effectively.—VNS
Vern Weitzel (Mr.) BSc, BA, MA, M Env Man & Dev
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