September 2007

Pocket Electronic Health Diary (PeHD)

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PeHD is a pocket electronic health diary system created on patients' own interest and managed by hospitals who offer it. The main aim of a PeHD for developing countries is to introduce an electronic health record where there is no centralized health care system and governments cannot maintain database of citizen's health records. This will be an initial step not only towards paperless health care systems, but also to empower patients through access to their medical information.

In this era of ICT (Information and Communication Technology) when no sector has been left untouched, recent advancements in ICT have changed health care systems. The use of ICT through Telemedicine and e-Health tools has created bridges between space and time, this has been reflected on a “better access to health care and access to better health care, cost effectiveness, equity and efficiency of health care” [11]. These qualities of Telemedicine and e-Health services are attracting policy makers on health care from developing countries where there is a boom of health crises and lack of infrastructures, human resources, and of course funding [2].

PeHD is a decentralized, patient centric, health record which provides an organised summary of personal medical information for presentation to health care providers [3]. It is multifunctional and multipurpose, includes text, images, sounds, and other multimedia content. It not only supports doctors to have access to the patients' medical records, but also for Hospital treatment purposes, Government bodies for statistical purposes, and research purposes.

The Health information is not only stored in a server but also stored in a USB drive for quick accessing of essential medical information where internet is not available [4]. And patients have to carry this USB drive along with him/her as an ATM card or credit card. As PeHD is used by different users (stakeholders), different interfaces are made so that only information required for that user can be accessed from patient's health information data.

PeHD's main goal is to help patients to become active participants in their own care, empowering them to acquire awareness of their own,or their family members', health status. The available literature does not yet seem to adequately describe the potential capabilities and utility of these systems in developing countries – “Unfortunately few systems have been described in the literature and fewer evaluated” [10] and “In addition, the lack of a proven business case for widespread deployment hinders Personal Health Records adoption” [3].

Most consumers and patients receive care from many health care providers, and consequently their health data are dispersed over much paper record of many hospitals. A fragmented system of storing and retrieving essential patients' data impedes optimal care.

Present Scenario

It is common to have patients visiting the hospital or GP without any previous medical reports, incomplete, or very old and half torn reports. Sometimes reports are in good shape but we aren't able to read due to the doctor's illegible handwriting [5]. Patients often arrive in casualty with serious illnesses, but don't know anything about their previous treatment,  even what operation they had undergoneor what medication they might be on, the only thing they would recall is that they are on anti hypertensive medicine or anti diabetes and the colour of the tablets (red or white). It is common for patients not to carry medical records.  Thus one can imagine in this situation how difficult it will be to manage the case. In t an emergency, there's no room for errors. However if anything goes wrong, Doctors are  blamed.

It is now time to provide our doctors a little help with a system which gives them complete access to  their patient's medical history. We have found that PeHD is what we need to achieve our aim.

The Proposed Solution

The proposed solution is called PeHD

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