Ghana has become one of very few countries in Africa, to start using electronic health records in the public sector.
The system, called MedSpina, allows doctors and other health workers to collect all patient information including laboratory results electronically making medical care extremely easy.
It also flags up allergies, sets up reminders and appointments, controls stocks and warns the pharmacist if any medicines prescribed for the patient can interact or not.
Following a demonstration in her office, the Minister of Health, Ms Sherry Ayittey commented on the usefulness of the system and highlighted the importance of obtaining real life data on both patients and commodities to ensure optimum patient care.
She added that such systems are effective in managing logistics, preventing wastage and improving efficiency.
The Minister of Health expressed happiness at the support offered by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in the development of MedSpina.
“This support indicates WHO’s commitment in building strong health systems towards achieving universal health coverage.”
Under a project titled: “Electronic Health Records for Pharmacovigilance and Safety Assessment” the WHO supported the WHO Collaborating Centre for Advocacy and Training in Pharmacovigilance (WHO-CC), University of Ghana Medical School, Accra, Ghana to work with its partners to customise a leading global software for use in safety data collection and patient care.
Ms Haggar Hilda Ampadu, Director of Operations of the WHO-CC praised the product which allows doctors to manage patients in real time whilst collecting extremely vital data for patient management as well as policy decision making.
“MedSpina was developed with Africa in mind and it serves the needs of Africa very well. Very soon, we expect all patients to ask their healthcare workers why their health records are not being collected and kept electronically so that their doctor can give them excellent service in a very short time,” Ms Ampadu added.
MedSpina has undergone three years of rigorous testing at the Diabetic Clinic of the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital and has been found very useful in the Ghanaian context.
Dr Girish Mohata, an IT expert from Australia and a consultant to the WHO-CC explained the laborious process the team had gone through to ensure a product which is “future proof” and interfaces perfectly with all globally available systems.
The Minister of Health recommended immediate pilot testing of the system at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, the nation’s premier health institution.