Information and Communication Technology Projects: Philippines
Wireless Access for Health (2009-2010)
For the Wireless Access for Health project in the Philippines, RTI works with a broad public-private partnership to address the challenge of manual public health reporting and patient records systems. Rural health units (RHUs) and health workers spend countless hours manually compiling patient records and public health reports that must be hand-delivered to the provincial health office and then re-entered into the Philippines Department of Health's Field Health Service Information System (FHSIS) database, the major source of data for health policy analysis and planning.
RTI worked with partners to adapt a locally-developed electronic medical records system to generate FHSIS reports automatically from the patient records entered. The project piloted this electronic system in four RHUs in Tarlac Province, eliminating the burden of manual reporting and enabling health workers to access patient information more quickly and efficiently. Smart Communications, a mobile telecommunications company, provided 3G wireless internet connectivity to the RHUs to enable them to transmit their reports electronically.
During the pilot phase, RHUs recorded over 12,000 patient consultations in the electronic records system, which can now instantly generate all 23 reports required for the FHSIS. The ability to easily view, record, and share patient information simultaneously across multiple computers allows clinicians to complete patient consultations earlier as the time needed to search for records is reduced to seconds.
The pilot phase demonstrated that health workers, even those with limited computer experience, can successfully use computers at the point of care. In addition, the project demonstrated that the use of low cost and long battery life netbooks and open source software is feasible and makes such a system potentially more affordable to local government units.
RTI also trained 40 midwives and nurses to use computers and helped Tarlac State University staff gain experience in software development and information technology support to RHUs. Because of the success of the pilot phase, the Wireless Access for Health will serve as a model for replication across the Tarlac region and the rest of the Philippines.
The project's partners include the Philippines Department of Health, through the National Epidemiology Center and the Information Management Service; Department of Health, Center for Health Development; Qualcomm, through its Wireless Reach initiative; RTI International; Smart Communications, Inc.; Tarlac local government units; Tarlac Provincial Health Office; Tarlac State University; University of the Philippines Manila, National Telehealth Center; and the United States Agency for International Development.