Medinfo 2010 was held in Cape Town, South Africa from September 12-15, 2010. It was very well attended with representation from many countries, particularly from Africa. It was an excellent opportunity to bring the world of health informatics to the continent of Africa. A lot of exciting informatics activities have been brewing in Africa and in Global South countries for the past several years. It is particularly appropriate that Medinfo should come to Africa at the 10 year anniversary of UN promise on the Millennium Development Goals. The American Medical Informatics Association annual meeting will be held in Washington, DC from November 13-17, 2010. This close approximation of these two important meetings provides an opportunity to build upon the momentum begun before Cape Town to achieve an inclusive global informatics effort, particularly to serve those in resource-poor settings.
This discussion panel will be on the global perspectives on the role of health informatics on improving quality and safety. It will take place formally between September 27th and October 8th. It will take place simultaneously here and at http://grou.ps/medinfo2amia2010/talks/4047835 and atWe are grateful to have three panelists who will be online to facilitate the discussion. The panel will consist of the following:
Andrew S. Kanter, MD MPH- Moderator. Director of Health Information Systems/Medical Informatics for the Millennium Villages Project at the Earth Institute, Columbia University and Assistant Professor of Clinical Biomedical Informatics and Clinical Epidemiology at the Earth Institute.
David W. Bates, MD MSc- Panelist. Chief, Division of General Internal Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston. Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Professor of Health Policy and Management at the Harvard School of Public Health and Director of the Center for Patient Safety, Research and Practice at Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School.
Jean Marie Rodrigues, MD - Panelist. Founding Chair of the Department of Public Health and Medical Informatics at the University of Saint Etienne Hospital, France. WHO Collaborating Center for International Classifications in French Language, Paris, France, and WHO collaborator for International Classification of Diseases, 11th Edition (ICD 11) and International Classification of Patient Safety (ICPS).
Dean Sitting, PhD - Panelist. Professor, School of Biomedical Informatics, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. Member University of Texas, Houston-Memorial Hermann Center for Healthcare Quality and Safety.
What is the role of international health informatics in improving quality and safety, particularly in low-resource settings?
As director of a program to implement health information systems in rural Africa, as part of an overall, integrated development effort to lift villages out of poverty and help countries achieve the Millennium Development Goals, this is a particularly important topic for me. We are implementing an open source stack of applications called the Millennium Global Village-Network (MGV-Net) which includes both the mobile device, RapidSMS-based system known as ChildCount+ and the electronic medical record framework known as OpenMRS. We believe that providing Information and Communication Technology (ICT) at the point-of-care, can markedly improve our ability to monitor and evaluate health care delivery in the most disadvantaged of populations, while improving the quality of care of the patients and the quality of life of the providers. Including Community Health Workers (CHWs), Nurses, Clinical Officers as well as Doctors in our health information systems offers the opportunity to effect positive changes where they are needed most (while at the same time providing more timely and accurate information to program administrators and Ministries of Health for planning purposes). Africa and other similar environments provide both challenges and opportunities. Most of these are beyond the scope of this discussion, but in particular, I wonder if the panel would provide some initial thoughts, and answers to some questions to get the discussion going.
1. What are the most important areas for newly innovating health systems to focus on to ensure quality of care and patient safety, particularly as applied to the Global South?
2. What special considerations are needed when taking Quality/Safety lessons from existing health information systems and applying them in these settings?
3. How do we ensure scalability and sustainability of Quality/Safety-focused systems when dealing with resource-poor settings?
Come back tomorrow for the beginning of the discussion!