Information Management as a Corner Stone for Improving the Quality of Healthcare Services in Pakistan

Dr. Gohar Wajid, Dr. A. K. Al Zarouni & Dr. Hissa Ahmed Al Massoud

Year:    2002
Category:   Healthcare Quality
Source:   ICQI 2002 – Pakistan 7th International Convention on Quality Improvement, Karachi
Publisher:   PIQC Institute of Quality

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Author’ Introduction:   

Dr. Gohar Wajid is a medical graduate from Pakistan. Dr. Wajid also holds a Masters degree in Health Management Information Systems from UK and Master in Public Health from Australia. He provides consultation to the Ministry of Health in the UAE on Health Management Information Systems and Healthcare Quality Management Issues. Dr. Wajid has been working in the field of HMIS and Healthcare Quality Management for the past more than ten years. He has worked in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and for the WHO. He is a certified professional in Healthcare Quality from the USA. As a healthcare quality professional, he is actively involved with the International Society for Quality in Healthcare, National Association of Healthcare Quality (USA) and many other international organizations related to HMIS and health management. In 1997, Dr. Wajid conducted the first ever study on the quality of healthcare services being provided by Pakistani tertiary level hospitals. His areas of interest include the development of strategies for HMIS and Quality Management issues in developing countries.

Abstract   

Accurate, reliable and timely information is of key importance for planning, management and decision-making. According to Fuller-Love and Cooper (1996), information technology has been of strategic importance in the implementation of rapid changes taking place in the National Health Service (NHS), in the past few years. Its role is of particular importance with reference to increasing the competitiveness of the hospitals.

Proper information management gives timely and easier access to information throughout the organization, improves the accuracy of data, demonstrates balance of proper levels of security versus ease of access and enhances patients care through greater collaboration and sharing of information.

An appropriate Health Management Information System (HMIS) is not only essential for planning and management, but also the fate of any Quality Improvement Program depends on appropriate, accurate and timely information. The Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI) process requires an accurate database of information that is easily attained when looking for systems and individual patient care improvements. Both HMIS and Quality Improvement System have been historically neglected during the development of the National Healthcare Systems in most of the developing countries including Pakistan. Healthcare leaders in Pakistan are not aware of the advantages of HMIS in improving the quality of care.

Some of the specific features of HMIS in Pakistan include:

  • Weak health management information system;
  • Poorly organized data collection facilities;
  • Lack of coherence between the information collected and information actually needed;
  • Limited use of the generated information;
  • Reliability of the collected information.

The introduction of computers in the Pakistani healthcare sector in the past two decades is changing the methods of data collection, its storage and processing into useful information. Still there are a number of issues to be resolved before proper benefits of HMIS can be obtained. These issues include the documentation of the system, identification of information requirements at various levels, and making information as the fundamental driving force for health management and quality improvement process.

This paper will further discussed the status of HMIS in Pakistani hospitals, barriers to improving the quality of HMIS in Pakistani hospitals and the development of a strategy to improve the quality of healthcare through appropriate use of HMIS.