The Role of Medical Information Systems in the Response to the Haiti Earthquake
Speaker: Dr. Hamish Fraser , Partners in Health & Harvard Medical SchoolContact:
Date: February 24 2010
Time: 1:00PM to 2:00PM
Location: Kiva Conference Room
Host: Peter Szolovits
Fern DeOliveira, 3-5860, firstname.lastname@example.org
On January 12, 2010 a 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit Haiti leading to severe loss of life and massive disruption of the infrastructure of the capital Port au Prince and surrounding areas. There has been a collapse of services like water supply, sanitation and access to food and shelter. Large parts of the population have fled the capital to rural areas often to stay with relatives who are themselves very poor and lacking in facilities.
The public health and healthcare systems, already deeply under-resourced in Haiti, are struggling to cope with acute injuries, subsequent effects of poorly treated wounds and the effects of overcrowding and poor sanitation. Overworked and understaffed, the clinics struggle to document patient care appropriately. Additionally, the disruption has made it difficult for clinicians to have access to patients' medical records to inform and document clinical care. This can affect the quality of care and makes effective disease surveillance and forecasting of medication and surgical supplies very difficult. It puts patients with chronic diseases like HIV and hypertension, and those requiring follow-up surgery at particular risk. Viable systems to rapidly and flexibly capture, store and retrieve clinical data are urgently needed in both established and new clinical sites.
Partners In Health (PIH) have been developing and deploying electronic
medical record systems in Haiti since 2002 and our HIV-EMR system is used in 11 hospitals and clinics in the central Plateau area. We are now moving to use the OpenMRS EMR system platform developed by our team at PIH and colleagues at the Regenstrief Institute in Indiana and the South African Medical Research Council. OpenMRS is also used by Doctors Without Borders and two other medical organizations in Haiti.
Since the earthquake we have been planning a new project to develop common designs and functionality for health information systems in Haiti, including the use of cell phone based data collection. This will be a collaboration with other organizations including the Haitian government, and I-Tech, which also has a widely used EMR system for HIV treatment. This approach of a "National eHealth Architecture" builds on work we are doing with the government of Rwanda.
There is great interest in the use of IT, communication systems and cell phones to support emergency response and recovery from natural disasters such as this. I will discuss how Partners In Health used such tools in response to the emergency and how other individuals and organizations can collaborate to help Haiti and to improve preparedness for future crises.
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