Electronic Health Record
Pakistan can be truly proud of National Command and Operations Center (NCOC), for its role in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Its efficiency and effectiveness could easily match that of the finest similar organisations in the world. NCOC has proven that a small group of committed professionals, using technology and working without the routine political interventions can create world class services and systems. Pakistan ought to consider extending this hugely successful model to other function and organization for improving its governance.
An immediate take-away from the NCOC could be creating a nation-wide Electronic Health Record System. Practiced in many countries, such a system integrates patients’ health records and drug information, so as to make accessible to authorized physicians / hospitals, a patient’s entire medical history. This includes access to health information like medication lists, immunization records, allergy lists, lab test results, X-rays and the patient’s medical history.
There are very few hospitals in Pakistan that maintain comprehensive patient records on long-term basis. Patients often personally carry their weather-beaten partial records from doctor to doctor, who happily prescribe numerous medicines and lab tests, with little knowledge of prior medication, immunization records, allergy lists, lab test results or patient’s history.
Likewise the drug information system could electronically document all medication prescribed and dispensed. This tool enables authorized health care providers to access, manage, share and safeguard patients’ medication histories. This would also make transparent to regulating bodies the dispensation of needless, incorrect or not recommended medication. These measures could contribute to improved prescriptions by physicians and better healthcare for patients. Technology and competent professionals are our untapped resources that could turn around Pakistan.