NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 19 – The Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) has started digitising its 40 million medical records through a Sh33.6 million grant from the Rockefeller Foundation in an effort to increase efficiency, cut on operational costs and stamp out corruption.
The initiative has been running for the last four weeks resulting in 1.1 million records already scanned into the database. The hospital’s ICT manager Ambrose Kwale said the first phase of the digitisation process is to run from June to September.
“This project is targeting four million records and in the implementation, we have narrowed it down to the Ear, Nose and Throat clinic and that will be the pilot clinic,” he announced.
“By the end of the four months of this project, we expect that the clinic and patient information management will all be online,” he added.
The Rockefeller Foundation fund is part of a Poverty Reduction through Information and Digital Employment (PRIDE) initiative that promotes the field of impact sourcing, through creation of employment to many jobless youths.
The Managing Director of the Rockefeller Foundation in Africa James Nyoro acknowledged that they’ve “given this grant to demonstrate that you can hire people from disadvantaged groups and take them through a short training program to create a positive impact in their lives.”
“A lot of this digitisation work in Kenya has been done by big foreign companies, but we are now demonstrating that we can use our own local people to create jobs that allow them to work here or anywhere else within the ICT industry,” he said.
“The impact sourcing model is about employing those at the bottom of the pyramid, while impacting the lives through good services with the digitised records,” he explained.
Along with the funding from the Rockefeller Foundation, the hospital has also received support from local contractors Techno Brain and COSEKE.
Kenya ICT Board Deputy Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Eunice Kariuki expressed excitement for the board to be associated with the digitising project.
“We are leveraging ICT to transform Kenyans’ lives while demonstrating a capacity of our business process outsourcing industry,” she said.
KNH is the largest teaching and referral hospital in the East and Central Africa Region with a bed capacity of 2,000 and serves over 500,000 outpatients and 70,000 inpatients every year with a staff of 4,600.
The hospital’s CEO Richard Lesiyampe noted that automating their services will not only help increase efficiency in delivering services, but also block the financial haemorrhage caused by corruption.
According to Lesiyampe, KNH annual costs stand at Sh6.8 billion against revenues of Sh5.3 billion, leaving it with a funding gap of Sh1.5 billion that is plugged by donors.
“This will curb corruption common with use of paper work, reduce man works and cut the cost of stationery-which currently stands at about Sh150 million annually or 12 percent of its administrative cost,” he said.
“We intend to increase efficiency by reducing the time patients take to register at the hospital by automating the registry process and reduce corruption by automating the billing process,” he added.
In the past, manual processes have proved to be inefficient, difficult to measure and prone to human error and Assistant Deputy Director of Clinical Services Henry Kioko noted that the pilot project will provide key lessons not only in digitising the remainder of the records, but act as an example to county hospitals around Kenya.
“In the next five years it will be possible for a patient to get their information through a click of a button,” he said.
The electronic medical records will be used for a wide variety of purposes such as getting multiple views, diagnostic care and treatment, assessing preventive measures for various illnesses and for assessing the outcome of clinical trials and research.
This will also help the hospital and researchers to monitor common ailments and their prevalence in specific areas and it is envisaged that this will be a flagship project for the health sector in the country to replicate.
Besides the hospital, the government has also embarked on the process to digitise documents in the ministries of lands and immigration, the Judiciary and the Kenya Revenue Authority.
The Ministry of Lands requires Sh9 billion to fully automate its registry to enable land buyers to check status of the owners before entering into an agreement and at the KRA, it is now possible for individuals to apply for their Personal Identification Numbers (PIN) or file their returns online.