Benefits and challenges of EMR implementations in low resource settings: a state-of-the-art review
Providing high-quality HIV/AIDS care requires high-quality, accessible data on individual patients and visits. These data can also drive strategic decision-making by health systems, national programs, and funding agencies. One major obstacle to HIV/AIDS care in developing countries is lack of electronic medical record systems (EMRs) to collect, manage, and report clinical data. In 2001, we implemented a simple primary care EMR at a rural health centre in western Kenya. This EMR evolved into a comprehensive, scalable system serving 19 urban and rural health centres. To date, the AMPATH Medical Record System contains 10 million observations from 400,000 visit records on 45,000 patients. Critical components include paper encounter forms for adults and children, technicians entering/managing data, and modules for patient registration, scheduling, encounters, clinical observations, setting user privileges, and a concept dictionary. Key outputs include patient summaries, care reminders, and reports for program management, operating ancillary services (e.g., tracing patients who fail to return for appointments), strategic planning (e.g., hiring health care providers and staff), reports to national AIDS programs and funding agencies, and research.