Center for Global Health

1 University of New Mexico
Albuquerque, NM 87131

Phone: (505) 272-8207
Fax: (505) 272-8441

Medical Informatics

Informatics chart

The Laboratories of Tropical Diseases are working in conjunction with Baobab Health Partnership, Inc. in developing a computer-based health information system for the research facility in the Siaya District Hospital and other locations in western Kenya. The objectives of the system are twofold:

  • to augment the clinicians' ability to deliver healthcare, and
  • to collect complete and accurate information and make it available in a timely fashion to support ongoing research

System requirements have been developed paying close attention to usability, accessibility, availability, reliability, sustainability and security/privacy.

The system integrates clinical workstations into the healthcare delivery process leveraging four technologies that are novel in this setting. These technologies are touchscreen interfaces, barcode scanners, thermal label printing, and fault-tolerant computing. All of these hold features beneficial in particular to the third world environment.

The touchscreen interface is used to facilitate accuracy and the speed at which the data can be entered. In designing the user interfaces, button size and inter-button spacing were chosen to optimize usability.

Barcode scanner technology is used to track and recall patient information on lab samples and other documentation. Barcode scanners allow the clinicians to manage patient information quickly and accurately. Additionally, using barcodes allows the system to maintain the patient's privacy through the use of barcodes and patient numbers in clinical documentation. Thermal label printing is used to allow the ink on labels used in the clinic to withstand extreme temperatures and to prevent it from fading over time.

Finally, the system benefits significantly from fault-tolerant computing. The hardware chosen for this project incorporates two fault-tolerant features. The first feature is the presence of three hard drives in a Redundant Array of Inexpensive Drives (RAID) configuration. This allows for the system to continue running without any downtime or loss of data in the event of a catastrophic failure of any single drive. The second feature is the presence of two power supplies connected in a failsafe configuration such that if the first power supply fails, the second will take over before power to the system is interrupted.

The software is divided into 2 modules: Patient Registration and Patient Services. The system tracks patients (children) as they move through the registration process, the pediatric outpatient clinic and the pediatric ward. The software is particularly beneficial to the clinic not only in record keeping but also in its promotion of accountability. This is accomplished through the use of time stamps to record the time of admission, movement and discharging of patients, as well as the identities of the clinicians implementing these processes.