Kazakh hospitals to do away with paper records, switch to electronic health passports

ASTANA – The Kazakh Ministry of Health plans to do away with paper records beginning January 2019 by completely turning to electronic health passports. Half of Kostanai residents will have passports by the end of the year, said regional health department deputy head Ekaterina Slobodenyuk during a briefing at the regional communications service.

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“Electronic health passports are actively being introduced and 38,000 passports have already been purchased. We plan to provide 50 percent of Kostanai region residents with them,” she said.

The region has considerable room for improvement in terms of Internet access and 90.9 percent of health facilities have computers. The region will spend 387 million tenge ($1.1 million) to buy 1,427 computers for the remaining facilities and 361 million tenge ($1.1 million) has been allocated from the regional budget to introduce Dmed, an integrated medical information system, in 41 medical organisations.

“The Internet is provided in 32 percent of medical institutions in the region. We are going to connect 143 objects to the Internet, reaching 60 percent coverage. The figure will change to 93 percent, as another 167 objects will have Internet connections next year,” said Slobodenyuk.

Digitising the health system is being conducted as part of the governmental 2016-2019 health development programme. One aspect is preparing citizens for obligatory health insurance.

The electronic passport includes information about the patient, including previous illnesses, chronic diseases, possible allergic reactions to medicines and test results. The online personal patient account will lower the queue for registration, said Slobodenyuk, as it suggests making a doctor’s appointment or calling him or her to receive aid at home, as well as allowing the patient to monitor his or her health by leaving records in an electronic diary.

The electronic health passport will be introduced this year in the Akmola, Karaganda, Kostanai and West Kazakhstan regions. The Ministry of Healthcare signed a memorandum with IBM and Microsoft to introduce the new, innovative projects.

The single information space with the patient’s data will provide statistics and information for transparent industry financing, said Vice Minister of Healthcare Alexei Tsoi. Patients can use the passport to review information about their condition and get paperless access to electronic health services.

The system will also simplify doctors’ workloads, as they have been recording the same data on paper, the health information system and their internal information systems. Now, they will go online to browse records about the patient, his or her dynamic data and medical history, get dispensary registration information and check the list of diagnoses.

All records will be found in the cloud data storage. Using the Internet, access will be granted with an ID card and digital signature anywhere in Kazakhstan or throughout the world. Old paper records will also be digitised.

“But all records can’t be digitised. The quality of the paper is obsolete or the handwriting is very difficult to disassemble in some cases. Now, we are working on several options to solve the problem, using both scanning and manual work,” said national electronic health centre general director Olzhas Abishev.

He noted mobile apps, designed for patients with chronic diseases to report their condition to the doctor, will be developed by the end of next year. Patients will be able to stay home rather than visit the clinic and physicians will monitor their health in real time.

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