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Soon: Health data at the click of a mouse

health-and-fitness Updated: Sep 15, 2009 01:29 IST

Hindustan Times
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Union Health Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad announced on Monday that his ministry was in the process of conceptualising a software to maintain and track data for diseases in the country.

“It is an unfortunate reality that we have no system of maintaining a database of diseases. Even if there is, it is either very sketchy or at most times unreliable,” Azad said.

“It is indeed sad that although we produce the best doctors and scientists in the world, we are nowhere near global data maintenance standards,” the minister said, addressing the press at the launch of National Initiative on Patient Safety (NIPS ) organised by AIIMS and WHO.

“We have no data for people dying in our country due to lack of safety measures in hospitals. Even for this we have to fall back on American, European or Australian databases and draw up our data on mere approximations,” he said. In the first phase, the ministry wants to track polio cases across the subcontinent. And as the health minister put it, “It’s doable.”

“We will have all the relevant data of the patient so that we can track his case sitting in Delhi. In the second phase, we aim to track all new births and vaccinations,” Azad said. Although he was reluctant to give a timeline, he said it would be launched “very soon.”

AIIMS Safety cell

AIIMS, on its part, is planning to establish a patient safety-monitoring cell in the hospital to ensure patient safety norms are followed at the various hospitals in its network.

“We already have a registry of patients, but now we will also maintain a data on deaths and their causes. This will help us understand death patterns and also help us analyse if they were hospital deaths and if they were preventable,” said Dr Shakti Kumar, HoD hospital administration, AIIMS.

“Conservative estimates suggest at least one in ten deaths is due to lack of patient safety norms in hospitals. It is time we had our own data.”

Gupta said the effort will ensure not just quality care but also surgical safety, smooth flow of instructions from the doctor to the nursing staff to the patient and also ensure hand-hygiene measures are followed before and after examining patients.

To begin with, 11 hospitals across the country including AIIMS will be connected with this project, and gradually 80 more will be included.