Samboan municipal health officer Dr. Ianne Jireh Ramos suspected hypertension to be the prevalent case among townsfolk who availed themselves of the municipal government’s health programs. Ramos, however, couldn’t say for certain. She just had a hunch based on anecdotal information.
When she took over as Samboan municipal health officer last January, Ramos found medical records-keeping rudimentary. What was readily available to physicians was vital physical information written on one-fourth pad paper, the type used by high school students for short, mid-week quizzes. These pieces of paper were then dumped into boxes and when medical workers needed to check for medical history, they would have to rummage through the disorganized pile.
Ramos said it was a challenge for doctors to look into a patient’s medical history and some were taking medication for years with no records to show for the reason for the prescription or the progress in the treatment of the ailment.
But when the town started using SHINE OS+, Ramos said, her hunch was immediately proven correct. Even with just the data of 60 patients that have been encoded so far, the system showed hypertension was indeed the most common case among their patients. Such medical insights, Ramos said in an interview, can help inform policy-makers craft more effective health programs.
SHINE or the Secured Health Information Network and Exchange is a project by Smart Communications, Inc. launched in 2011. Two years later, Smart signed an agreement with the Ateneo Java Wireless Competency Center (AJWCC) in the Ateneo de Manila University for expansion of the system’s capability and its release as an open source program. That newer and expanded version is called Shine OS+.
Enhance health services
During Samboan’s town fiesta last Wednesday, Sept. 30, the municipal government, Smart and AJWCC launched SHINE OS+ in its historic town center, near the landing of Jacob’s Ladder and beside the watchtower that offers a panoramic, albeit hazy at that time, view of Negros Island.
Samboan Mayor Raymond Joseph Calderon said during the launch that he considered the town lucky to be able to use SHINE OS+ to enhance the delivery of health services. Smart public affairs senior manager Maria Jane C. Paredes said that in deploying SHINE OS+, the goal of the partners was to make health services easier. Paredes said she hoped other towns in Cebu and throughout the country will soon avail themselves of the system.
At the core of the SHINE OS+ is the so-called 4 Rs for recording of patient data, reminding via SMS or email of appointments and medication, referring of services and prescriptions and reporting of required data submissions to government agencies.
The system has taken on more “Rs,” said project lead Dr. Ma. Regina Estuar of the AJWCC. One is RN for the nurses, said Estuar. She said when the system was designed, they only did so from the points of view of the doctor and patient, but they realized the importance of nurses during the rollout. Another R, Estuar said, is RX for prescriptions – the system will soon generate prescriptions that can be accessed by pharmacists via scanning a QR or quick response codes.
Yet another R is for response for emergency situations. The ability to store data on the cloud makes sure that these are still accessible even if computers or paper documents are destroyed in a disaster. Estuar said this ability to access records also helps emergency responders identify fatalities or help casualties.
Free for doctors
Estuar said another R is for “reuse” of the code to extend it to other platforms and to release it as an open source project. By making SHINE OS+ open source, its maintainers will be able to accept contributions and fixes from anyone interested to help improve the system. She said the OS in the name stands for open source, open service and open standards.
The basic Shine system is free for doctors to sign up with to handle their clinics’ medical records. Estuar said they will soon make available for download an installer for the program to allow anyone to run the system.
Estuar said the system deployed in Samboan works offline, storing data locally and then synchronizing with the server once the computer is connected to the Internet.
Ramos said they aim to digitize patient records of 5,000 people and have started training Samboan health workers in encoding the data. She said they would tap students, via the NSTP or National Service Training Program, for the encoding of existing paper records into the system.