In my last blog, I wrote about how Microsoft technology is helping Operation Smile communicate and collaborate better around the world. Another powerful way that technology is going to help Operation Smile further our efforts is by enabling us to digitize our medical records.
As the largest volunteer-based medical charity providing free cleft surgeries, this year we’ll operate on about 20,000 children worldwide. Our doctors currently use paper medical charts and make handwritten notes on them during our international surgical missions. The challenge with this process is that there’s all this incredibly valuable information being captured in these charts but no easy way to search and analyze that information.
Using technology donated by Microsoft and Sláinte Healthcare, we plan to scan our paper charts into an electronic medical record system (EMR) designed specifically for our needs. Digitizing the worldwide patient information we’ve been collecting for 30 years will open up amazing possibilities for research and analysis.
Think of all the data points that are in a medical history chart — age, sex, race, country of origin, and particular notes on each patient’s surgery. Having that information in an EMR will allow us to quickly get answers to questions like: Are cleft lip and cleft palate more common in girls or boys? Does that vary by country or region? Is there a difference in how these conditions present at various ages in different parts of the world? To be able to push a button and then compare cases and analyze the collected data will be phenomenal.
What’s more, we’ll be better able to monitor and research health outcomes for the children that we treat across the world.
All of this insight will help us continually improve our global standard of care.
In addition to research and analysis, we’ll also be able to more efficiently comply with legal retention policies for the various countries we operate in. For example, India requires that you retain a child’s operation medical record until age 18 — and even longer if there is a potential legal issue associated with that record. Since we currently operate in 60 countries and expect that number to grow, you can imagine that adhering to all the country-specific medical record retention laws is no small task. Being able to do so using our EMR will streamline the process.
Very few technology teams could address the complex issues that our international medical records present. So we feel incredibly fortunate to be working with Microsoft and Sláinte Healthcare.
Using their technologies to create an EMR that meets our specific needs is going to help us gain invaluable medical insight, improve care quality, and increase efficiency—to name just a few of the powerful benefits we’re excited about. I look forward to sharing more about this transformative process right here, so stay tuned.
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