Project HOPE’s Macedonia Team Designs Custom-Made Software
This June, Project HOPE’s team in Macedonia successfully completed an innovative project that created and implemented a modernized health data collection software for patients at the University Dermatology Clinic in Skopje (UDCS). The software was designed to align with the system used by the Ministry of Health (MOH) and aims to reduce time spent by hospital staff on patient data collection while improving patient privacy protection and the quality of data collected. The project is the result of a $20,000 grant awarded to the Macedonia team through Project HOPE’s Internal Global Health Innovations Challenge, supported by our partner, Eli Lilly and Company, Inc. The Challenge was held last year and encouraged Project HOPE staff around the world to develop innovative solutions to global health problems they encounter in the field. In response, the Macedonia team proposed a project to address gaps in data collection within health facilities that affect doctors’ time, patient privacy and overall quality of health care services.
Project HOPE has supported the improvement of health systems in Macedonia since 1993 through building capacity in pharmaceutical management and supplementing health facilities’ medical supplies with the provision of critically needed medicine and equipment. While working with health facilities in the country and the MOH, our team identified several barriers that inhibit facilities from collecting quality patient data and providing high quality patient care. For example, the lack of computers, IT equipment and internet coverage at health facilities limits their ability to implement national health reform policies while also forcing doctors to spend inordinate amounts of time manually collecting data and then re-entering that data into one of the few available computers. Patient privacy is also affected by the standard use of paper charts as opposed to patient e-records.
To address these gaps, Project HOPE’s Macedonia team surveyed available software and determined that a custom-made software designed to store gathered data on an onsite server to protect patient privacy and align with local regulations would be the best solution. UDCS was then selected as the pilot institution and equipped with the necessary equipment including tablets, desk top computers, cables and routers to carry out the project. Programming of the software was completed with input from UDCS staff, hospital management and the MOH in order to determine the system features and capabilities. The end result was a customized software with a mobile and desktop application interface that runs on hand-held tables and provides the following benefits:
- Reduction in time spent by hospital staff on patient data collection by eliminating the need of paper notes and immediately transferring patient data to a server accessible to registered hospital users;
- Collection and storage of photos in patient files to support diagnosis, treatment and progress monitoring. This feature was requested by UDCS since they have high patient return rates due to recurring skin conditions and diseases;
- Capability to collect patient data through audio recordings in order to further shorten time spent on data collection;
- Elimination of paper patient charts to better support patient privacy protection;
- Provision of easy communication between medical staff through a messenger feature;
- Storage of patient data and history through an onsite server installed within the hospital; and
- Accessibility of patient data for research and inclusion in scientific publications.
UDCS staff and management received a training on the equipment and software prior to officially handing it over the clinic’s management team. In order to ensure sustainability, the clinic will receive support from the software programmer during a three month transition period and usage of the software will be monitored.
Outside of the successful implementation of the software within UDCS, one of the project’s greatest outcomes is the creation of a Project HOPE-owned, customizable software that can be tailored to fit the needs of various health institutions within Macedonia. The software can also be translated for and replicated in other countries around the world to strengthen global health systems data collection capacity and improve patient care.
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