Friday, June 3, 2011

IT in malaria reporting by private practitioners

The times of india article today (june3 2011by pratibha masand) on malaria disturbs me as usual. The problem of malaria eradication is that it also depends on good surveillance and support of all medical practitioners. As 85% of india's healthcare is delivered by private players, their role is essential in helping public health department by informing them on trends of malaria cases seen in their private clinics. This helps the public health take it one step forward by following up on malaria or fever positive cases to see similar occurrences in the patient's neighborhood and pro actively prevent further spread of malaria by checking for sources causing the same like stagnant water, etc or carry out a appropriate prophylaxis.
However the support from private practitioners is not to the satisfaction of the public health authorities. Private doctors and labs do not report malaria positive cases. The reason also includes the problem of dispatching such info to the public health office to the convenience of the doctor, and many times the public health department too busy to answer phone calls etc.
Solution: With information technology today and many useful and cheap utilities in mobile communication available, I wonder why the same is not used to reduce the workload of everyone.
Public health department can setup this innovative and cheap 'missed call' analytical service and register all private practitioners numbers. The private practitioner would then just need to give a "missed call" to the central number when ever he comes across a malaria positive case. The missed calls are automatically registered in database against the pre-registered details of the doctor. No charge to him. The public health department can on real time basis then can analyze region wise malaria trends and take immediate action. The IT setup can be created similarly for SMS integration to get name and address of the patient which can be similarly sent by the private doctor to a tollfree sms number.
There is similarly a lot which can and should be done by using technology to improve healthcare delivery.
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