FMC introduces e-medical record to replace paper cards, files
The Federal Medical Centre, Ebute Metta, Lagos, has introduced Electronic Medical Record to replace patients’ cards and paper files.
The project, which officially kicked off in September 2019, has seen about 20,000 out of the over 397,000 patients (both existing and new ones) in the medical register issued the new EMR cards.
The new digitalised medical card has FMC’s logo and name inscribed on one part and a digital code on the other side.
Speaking with PUNCH Healthwise on Friday, Mrs. Bamidele Folorunsho, whose son was being attended to at the paediatric ward, expressed surprised when the medical attendant asked her to pay to get the electronic medical record.
Payment for the digital card is different from the usual consultation fee, patients were made to understand.
“Of course, I refused and asked them to explain what was wrong with the usual patient’s card.
“My mood however changed when I saw the new plastic card because it looks very much like an ATM card.
“I think it is a good initiative. But they need to create an awareness campaign to intimate people.
“Just Imagine if I did not come with extra money to swap the card today. Would they have attended to my son?” Folorunsho said.
The front view of the electronic medical card
The front view of the electronic medical card
The back view of the electronic medical cardAn Electronic Medical Record system is a unique toolkit that helps create a unique database of patients’ medical information, such as medical history, future appointments, current medications and allergies.
It aims to create easy access to patients’ records irrespective of where the patient is accessing care, while it also reduces or cuts out, outright, unproductive waiting hours associated with retrieval of files, lab results and X-ray activities, stress associated with illegible handwriting, and prescription errors. It also makes for better patient file management.
Commissioned in 1964 by the first executive president of Nigeria, Nnamdi Azikiwe, the Federal Medical Centre is one of the few public health institutions that have so far deployed the use of EMR.
Aside private ones such as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Hospital, Paelon Memorial Hospital, Lakeshore Cancer Centre and Abuja Clinics, other government owned hospitals presently using the electronic card include the Federal Medical Centre, Keffi; National Hospital, Abuja; University of Maiduguri Teaching Hospital and Federal Medical Centre, Nguru.
Although the Ebute Metta facility has been described as one of the smallest of all the federal medical centres nationwide, a source disclosed that the Federal Government has acquired a large expanse of land to be used as an annex of the hospital in Badagry Local Government Area of Lagos State.
Speaking on the proposed EMR, the Medical Director, Dr. Adedamola Dada, said a recent research by Safe Care Initiative, which aims to introduce standards to improve healthcare delivery, revealed that the major challenge patients had accessing health care was delay in locating their case notes, hence the introduction of the electronic medical cards.
Speaking in the same vein, Assistant Director, Corporate Services of the hospital, Mr. Olorunfemi Ayoola, said, “With the introduction of EMR four months ago, we have completely eliminated paper and pencil administration.
“When a doctor wants to conduct a test on you, he does not need to write on paper any longer.
“He will just punch it into the system while you are on your way to the laboratory.
“The result will go through the same mechanism. This way, it will reduce the waiting time of patients.”
Describing the success so far recorded with the deployment of the EMR, Ayoola said, “Our patients’ register has grown tremendously to further accommodate a long list of retainership organisations and corporate bodies such as the Nigerian Shippers Council, Nigerian Ports Authority, and Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency.”
Another management staff, Mr. Victor Ojedapo, assistant director, medical laboratory at the hospital reiterated that the introduction of EMR has streamlined their activities.
“Patients now stroll in, swipe their cards and get the needed medical attention on time.
“After seeing the doctor, their diagnoses are punched in electronically as well as their lab result. This system has really made things easier for us and our patients.
“Now, you don’t get to see crowd at the reception anymore. This is the peak of innovation. What we see when we travel abroad or via the internet are being replicated here.
“Of course, our sister hospitals, too, have been coming around to learn one or two things from us,” he noted.
Another patient that PUNCH HealthWise spoke with, Mrs. Tawakalitu Abubakar, was unimpressed.
“I came here for treatment. Whether EMR or patient’s card, wouldn’t they ask me to bring money to procure another one?
“The only good thing I observe is that the crowd has reduced on my last two visits here,” she noted.
Lagoon Hospital, a subsidiary of the Hygeia Group, has been credited as the first Nigerian health institution to invest in the electronic system for keeping patients’ medical records on October 30, 2013.
It was a move that has gradually gained ground in the last seven years