East African hospitals and medical clinics suffer from their own organisational DNA. Their patient flow is complex in nature; they hire a workforce transitioning from manual file keeping to computerised labour. Understaffing is common, forcing physicians to visit multiple sites on the same day in order to keep up with demand. Automated services would be a dream coming true.
ClinicMaster International, a Ugandan enterprise employing 7 fulltime and 3 part-time staff, is the first to offer integrated health information management systems. Founder and lead developer Wilson Kutegeka: “‘Integrated’ is a word I emphasise when explaining what we do, in that we offer a solution that includes all departments contributing to patient flow, not just one or two departments.
ClinicMaster is a software solution that allows medical professionals to save patients’ personal data in electronic files, and share information across departments or even across clinics and hospitals. Until today, many medical centres maintain handwritten paper files stored in great volumes. A simple query like the number of female visitors seen over the past year, requires days to obtain. ClinicMaster increases efficiency as physicians have patients’ medication, diagnoses, allergies and latest test results at their fingertips whenever needed.”
Not acquainted with computer
The company has come to know its way around the East African healthcare sector. Especially in rural areas, significant numbers of medical staff do not know how to work with computers, Wilson admits. “We find that senior-trained nurses, who see patients on a daily basis, often are not acquainted with computer technology when they work in remote locations. Therefore, part of our on-site installation process is a two-week training program that teaches computer basics. On completion, caregivers know how to work with computers in general, and with ClinicMaster software in particular. Because our product was built from scratch – rather than drawn from already-existing software – its interface is easy-to-use and developed with the workload and preferences of non-IT specialists in mind.”
Privacy is one of ClinicMaster’s biggest concerns, Wilson insists. “We take sincere measures to guarantee that no one but the appropriate caregiver will access a patient’s medical file. Different users are appointed different roles, each role coming with a varying degree of rights: the right to read, write, update or delete, or a combination of the former. Moreover, the system is timed out when inactive during a given amount of time. Should a physician be distracted or walk away from the device, our system’s time lock prevents information from falling into the wrong hands.”
How international is ClinicMaster International? “Uganda is not alone in the challenges it faces. Healthcare looks very similar in surrounding East African countries. Since the 30-plus Ugandan locations where we run ClinicMaster software have so much improved, our message traverses borders. On request we moved into Kenya and South Sudan, and are currently investigating partnership opportunities with a clinic in the Democratic Republic of Congo.”