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Open source viewed as aid to Philippines e-health goals

o Ronald James Panis
11.05.2009 kl 15:55 |

Emphasizing on how electronic health records (EHRs) can give healthcare in the Philippines its much-needed shot in the arm, several speakers of the first Philippine eHealth and Telemedicine conference and exhibition highlighted the efficacy of Free Open Source Solutions (FoSS) in bolstering the delivery and organization of this critical digital medical information.

 

Emphasizing on how electronic health records (EHRs) can give healthcare in the Philippines its much-needed shot in the arm, several speakers of the first Philippine eHealth and Telemedicine conference and exhibition highlighted the efficacy of Free Open Source Solutions (FoSS) in bolstering the delivery and organization of this critical digital medical information.

In one of his talks during the recent two-day event held in Ortigas, director of UP Manila – National Telehealth Center and International Open Source Network Southeast Asia Dr. Alvin Marcelo stressed on how FoSS can liberate hospitals from the limits and costs that come with proprietary systems usage.

Comparing FoSS to a car with a hood that can be opened, letting owners examine and fix the engine, Marcelo meanwhile depicted proprietary systems as having that hood welded shut. Owners have no choice but to ask the manufacturers for assistance, which is guaranteed to be pricey.

Citing the definition of a free software since the 80s, Marcelo said that a free software allows users to run it on any way he/she user prefers, study its workings, modify its behavior, and then distribute copies of that modified version. An open source system means that hospitals can be free from the pangs of insufficient budgets when installing more proprietary software in other parts of its infrastructure or customizing it according to their needs to efficiently streamline delivery and storage of eHRs.

Echoing the tremendous benefits that come with FoSS is Joachim Mollin, general manager of hcc gmbh, founder of the open source myCare2x Network, and also a speaker during the event. “IT systems in healthcare are key considerations – but it is normally very expensive,” Mollin lamented. Sharing the situation in Germany, his country, Mollin reported that hospitals in several regions there have to rethink their strategy because the money is not enough to install in every system as well as for training the people.

“The future is open source which can [encompass] a large number of hospitals without licensing costs,” Mollin said, noting that the open source Internet-based solution myCare2x is designed specifically for people working in the healthcare system, and can be integrated on any existing system, be it Microsoft or SAP.

FoSS also proves integral in data consolidation among clinics and hospitals. Alison Perez, who is among the developers of the locally-made open source public health electronic medical record Community Health Information Tracking System (or CHITS), cites the advantages of a unified, paper-less medical data in his session. Indicating how the health centers scattered across the more than 41K barangays in the Philippines are required to submit reports for its vertical programs, Perez noted: “imagine the level of consolidations these reports have to go through.”

Redundant data input on the other hand, as health centers need to put in information on several logbooks, can eat up precious time of the medical people especially when backtracking. He shared how health centers are required to allot only 15 minutes per patient to maximize its consultations for the day. An open source system makes the entire process easier without shelling out too much.

“Quality data and proper data management process will churn out realistic information, which is basis for actions. At the end of the day, the goal is to deliver quality healthcare,” said Perez.

Keywords: Software  Industry Verticals  
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