E-Health Records Cover 70% of Population

E-Health Records Cover 70% of Population
E-Health Records Cover 70% of Population

Electronic health files have been created for 60%-70% of the people in every province on average, according to deputy health minister Iraj Harirchi.

“Electronic health files or the Electronic Health Record (EHR) system is a prerequisite for the Health Ministry’s family physician project, and we are trying to extend its coverage to 100% by September-end,” he was quoted as saying by ISNA.

EHR is a digital version of a patient’s paper chart. EHRs are real-time, patient-centered records that make information available instantly and securely to authorized users.

“In certain provinces, particularly the lesser developed ones such as Chaharmahal-Bakhtiari and Khuzestan, the coverage has surpassed 85%,” noted Harirchi, who is also the ministry spokesperson.

Given the importance of a cohesive national EHR system, the nationwide implementation of Iran’s EHR System, (abbreviated as ‘SEPAS’ in Persian), was placed on the agenda of the Fifth Five-Year Economic Development Plan that ended in 2016.

Although health authorities announced that it would be extended nationwide, it could not be implemented within the stipulated time as envisaged in the fifth plan, due to the lack of infrastructure in the field of information technology as well as budgetary constraints.

E-records began to be created for all patients at state-run hospitals two years ago, and now all 550 state hospitals have e-records but the systems are not integrated yet. The measure has not been made mandatory for private hospitals and currently only 40% of the 350 private hospitals are equipped with separate EHR systems.

Pointing to the benefits of the integrated EHR system, Harirchi said all services related to pregnancy at health houses in rural areas are recorded in the electronic system.

“Also, health services at all state hospitals are registered in e-records. But each hospital has a separate system. Therefore, if a person has several e-records in different hospitals, the hospital where the patient is undergoing treatment will not have access to his/her health information registered at other medical centers.”

Noting that there is no integrated e-system for all the hospitals yet, he stressed the need for such a network in all hospitals, health centers, health houses, and even private clinics.

 Paper Work Inefficient

Earlier, at a meeting of health authorities, Deputy Health Minister Ali Akbar Sayyari had stated that “Paper-based registration of patients’ medical information is no more efficient,” and is time-consuming.

With e-medical records, healthcare providers can have access at any time or at any location where care is being provided and there would be no delays in getting the much-needed information to provide timely and appropriate care.

The e-records also allow every care provider to be alerted in case of a patient’s allergies or any other critical information recorded during previous treatment, and can prevent many medical errors.

The system makes it easier for “data mining” in research and quality assurance endeavors. With the proper software, large groups of patients with various diseases can be identified. Charts, graphs, and costs can be ascertained with the click of a mouse.

“E-prescriptions can be sent electronically to the pharmacies. Therefore, illegible written prescriptions or mistakes in verbal communication would be minimized,” said Harirchi, pointing to another benefit of the EHR system.

Integrated online health record systems have been launched in only a few developed countries and the projects have taken several years to be implemented. The total annual budget for development of e-governance in the current year’s budget is around 3,100 billion rials ($77.5 million).

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