19 September 2022
The Clinical Service Department (CSD) of the Medical Research Council Unit The Gambia at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine in collaboration with the Applications Development & E-Health Department launched a new Electronic Medical Records System (EMRS) Module for the clinical wards on 29th July 2022 at the Unit campus in Fajara.
The EMRS, initiated in 2014, is a digital version of a paper chart that contains all of a patient’s medical history. The system is being used to capture, organize, maintain, and retrieve patients’ medical records.
The system consists of a comprehensive database used to store and access a patient’s healthcare information. The EMRS has replaced the existing paper medical records as the primary source of information for healthcare purposes for all clinical, analytical, and administrative purposes.
Dr Karen Forrest, Head of the Clinical Service Department at the MRCG at LSHTM highlighted the significance of the EMRS module for the ward, saying “The ward system has allowed us to improve efficiency and implement a number of patient safety checks that are additional to what was possible with a paper system.
It would not have been possible without the involvement of all levels of nurses and doctors in the department, and we are grateful to them for the many inputs and adjustments to the work that they have made as they have adapted to it. Although making the change was not easy, we all agreed that it is easier to work with an electronic system, such as this, that has been designed around the work needs of clinical staff and with the safety of our patients in mind.”
Over the last three years, the team have developed a comprehensive ward record system. This allows doctors and nurses to make clinical notes, record observations, allocate bed spaces, request, and review lab results, prescribe medications and fluids, administer them, and issue discharge summaries to patients.
Phase 1 and 2 provided services to the outpatient clinic, the laboratories, and the Gate clinic. Phase 3 began in 2019 with a visit to look at a system in use at the University of Birmingham Teaching Hospital.
Speaking on this new development, the Head of Applications Development & E-health Department at the MRCG at LSHTM Gilleh Thomas, said “The EMRS has completely transformed how medical care is provided here in the Unit. Through a very collaborative process with the clinical services department, labs, and research projects, we have managed as best as possible to build a system that is very secure and intuitive for its end users i.e., Doctors, Nurses, Lab Staff, Registration Clerks, etc. We will continue to fine-tune the system and include even more intuitive features to make the process of delivering healthcare even safer.”
Dr Davis Nwakanma, the Chief Operating Officer at the Unit said, “This system will help save lives and generate the sort of data that will not only improve practice but also provide an opportunity to train and extend support to other health services. This system is exciting because it is tailored to the needs of clinicians who are focused on taking care of patients to the best of their ability. We are proud to be pioneering this.
“We believe it will improve the capacity of doctors and other players in the health system to learn and ensure accurate and proper management of documentation. This system brings a new level of efficiency and would help us support other health care providers.”
Speaking on behalf of Prof. Umberto D’Alessandro, the Unit Director, Dr Davis Nwakanma added that “ This unique system is another incredible milestone and as a Unit, we are proud of this great initiative led by the Applications Development & E-Health Department and CSD to generate pilot data for clinical services and improve patient care. We will support this department to create more efficiency and leverage on technology to improve our operational services and create more impact within the sub-region and beyond.”
The EMRS, shared through the Unit’s intranet, also supports research projects collecting samples in field stations, clinics, or on wards to request and receive laboratory results directly from the system. This removes the burden of printing, completing, submitting, and retrieving paper-based lab requests, thereby improving the overall turnaround time for research projects.