Have you ever observed a health informatics project in your (other) organization? Please provide a brief introduction.
I experienced one health informatics project when I was working for one of the leading public health organizations. This was the implementation of the electronic Logistics Management Information System (eLMIS) for the management of health commodities especially for reproductive health items. This was employed at the different levels of health entities (from the Central level to the Sub-center level in the rural areas) in 178 townships under the Ministry of Health and Sport (MoHS) in Myanmar. The workflow is the basic health staff were trained to manage the health commodities of their related centers in the stock ledger book, complete the paper-based facility stock report, and submit it to the township health department where the LMIS focal person uploads these reports to the information management system. In this project, m-Supply software was used and this is an open-source supply chain management software primarily designed for managing health commodities in low-resource settings, such as healthcare facilities and organizations in developing countries. The township level, region/state level and central level can access all of these health commodities security statuses after the submission to the system and can manage it for better healthcare services.
How can this health informatics project help to improve the current practices?
This helped a lot in the management decision support by the healthcare authority at respective levels and better health outcomes; The first one is data standardization for these health commodities management and reporting along different levels which is really important to avoid the variation in the type of data reported between different health entities up to the central level.
The second one is the collection and provision of monthly data and analysis visualization of these data to the decision-makers regularly without time-consuming compared to paper-based reports. This couldn’t be the real-time data due to it didn’t cover up to the basic health centers but the various levels of decision makers can make the supply and relocation of the commodities by reviewing the commodities of each center monthly which can avoid the stock insecurity and imbalance for the patient care at the different healthcare facilities.
The third one is cost-wise in numerous ways such as reducing the labor cost to collect, process, and prepare all the paper-based documents up to the central level, also avoiding unnecessary overstock with the expiry of the products through relocating between the health facilities that is really important and cost benefitting around the practices.
Are there any challenges or difficulties in implementing the project?
Yes, this had been the challenges in my experience; the first one is the altitudes towards the health informatics project, which was related to both the decision-makers and users. In some areas the decision-makers didn’t support the process, didn’t use the system output (reporting data) and the users were reluctant to adopt the technology and these hindered the successful implementation of the project. The other one is the users are mostly healthcare staff and not properly equipped with the necessary IT skills to operate the system where synchronization errors are mostly encountered for the proper system implementation.