Open Access Scientific Reports
Achampong, 1:2 http://dx.doi.org/10.4172/scientificreports.164
Open Access Open Access
Electronic Health Record System: A Survey in Ghanaian Hospitals Emmanuel Kusi Achampong*
Department of Medical Education and IT, School of Medical Sciences, University of Cape Coast, Ghana
Developing countries are slow adopters of new technologies, particularly with regards to the health services of these countries. This study explores the data collection and management challenges in four Ghanaian hospitals using a survey study approach and proposes implementing an Electronic Health Record (EHR) system as a solution to these challenges. Some challenges that would impede the implementation of EHR in a Ghanaian hospital are the initial huge start up costs, poor computer skills of healthcare professionals, poor maintenance culture, and lack of policy to spearhead the implementation of the system. The weak state of information infrastructure at the hospitals is another challenge in an EHR implementation. EHR could potentially reduce waiting times for patients, reduce the cost of the hospital‘s operations, improve interdepartmental communication and collaboration, provide opportunity for sharing best practices among physicians within Ghanaian hospitals, and enhance better resource allocation. The data an EHR could primarily capture would be patients‘demographics, care plans, laboratory results, billing and NHIS claims information.
Keywords: Electronic communication technology Introduction
Appropriate information and Health Information Systems (HIS) are seen as crucial to strengthen the health system in developing countries  and in pursuing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) . On the ground, however, HIS and especially hospital information systems development in developing countries has proven difficult due to organisational complexity , fragmented and uncoordinated organisational structures all maintaining their own HIS , and unrealistic ambitions . The important role, influence, and impact of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in all sectors of our society have long been recognized [6-12]. In the health sector, ICT-tools are being more and more developed, recommended, and used to improve the quality of work in administration, patient records, health services, and research [13-15]. During the nineteen-eighties, at the inception of the use of ICT-tools in most developed countries, the use of ICT-tools were not an issue or at best a matter of low priority in Less Developed Countries (LDC) . Given the complex nature of healthcare delivery and the numerous decisions that must be made, sometimes under very challenging circumstances, the need for accurate, reliable and timely information becomes very crucial. Paper-based records cannot provide the flexibility and leverage that Electronic Health Record (EHR) presents. The ministry of health (Ghana) clearly identifies the need for an efficient health information management system. Medical work is a highly complex, distributed, dynamic, regulated, knowledge-intensive and often time-critical activity. To make treatment of ill and/or injured patients possible in these time-critical, specialised and physically distributed work settings, medical staff constantly needs to cooperate with each other. Cooperation in these distributed medical work settings requires extensive coordination between the medical actors involved. To facilitate this coordination medical work is heavily regulated by procedures and conventions, as well as supported by a number of technologies like paper documents and analogue films that are used by a large number of medical actors for many different purposes. These technologies are not isolated artefacts but social and material parts of work. Over the years, the government being the principal...