English | Dzongkha Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Streamlining healthcare service with Electronic Patient Information System (ePIS)

Oct 26, 2020

To further improve health service delivery and develop a more resilient health system, the health ministry is currently working to introduce Electronic Patient Information System (ePIS) in the country. Health Minister Dechen Wangmo shared this during the health policy dialogue on Friday. ePIS is one of the projects to be implemented under the Digital Flagship programme of the government. The system will record information of a patient which can be accessed by a doctor in any part of the country.

The system is expected to reduce the use of prescription papers and enhance the use of information and communications technology. Health Minister Dechen Wangmo said once this system is in place, the issue of unequal access and inequity in availing health services in the country will be greatly reduced.

“We are the only country probably in the world where we have a free healthcare system with no gatekeeping mechanisms. We are the only country where we have no system of referrals. So somebody with a headache can see a neurologist, somebody with just diarrhoea can see a medical specialist. So with no cost attached and no system in place, we are hoping that when we have the electronic patient information this will also streamline the gatekeeping mechanism, the referral mechanism,” Lyonpo said.

The Health Minister added that the electronic patient information system will also streamline and foster accountability among those providing health services:

“So a doctor in the BHU just cannot refer because he doesn’t want to take the chance or risk and send the patient to Thimphu. The patient comes here and that is the out of pocket expenditure that people incur in having to come here and wait for the appointment and the money that is spent despite the free health care. And in reality, it is not free because there are many other costs associated with it. So we realize that once we have this kind of mechanism in place then we will be able to implement a much more accountable and efficient system.”

The Health Ministry started working on introducing the system in 2016 and was piloted in Paro in 2017. However, the initiative could not materialise in hospitals across the country due to a lack of technical expertise and poor internet connection.

Sonam Pem

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