Challenges of Using Electronic Health Records in Developing Nations

Paperwork is being taken over by electronic methods almost all over the world and in every field may it be accounts, hotel guests or even health records. While this evolution is taking place all over the world, developing nations like Africa and Pakistan also try to be a part of this trend. However, use of electronic methods need some complimenting external factors which support these methods, and if they are not present, use of electronics eventually fail.
For instance, health records are rapidly being transferred from paper to electronic mediums due to their success rate and convenience. Whereas developed countries are having no problem with this major transition, the developing countries have to face some major hurdles in doing so.

Investments

Electronic Health Records (EHR) needs a high level of funds not only in installing the entire system but also for maintenance purposes. Since EHR is for welfare purposes and is a part of the government’s expenditure. In developing nations, the government does not have that level of investments for such luxuries. Even if they install the systems, the maintenance of this machinery also costs a lot and the chances are that the government might not be able to raise that kind of funds and ignore the fulfillment of the basics.

 

Training Facilities

Unlike the book records, maintaining Electronic Health Records need special staff. Again, the training cost of the staff is a direct expense to the government and with the lack of funds, is often seen as a luxury more than a necessity. If the workforce is of no use or inappropriately trained, the EHR is useless and can be a dead expense to the investors.

Language Barriers

Most of the times the systems designed to maintain the Electronic Health Records are designed in English. In the developed countries this is fine because most of the countries commonly use English as their primary language and even if they don’t, people in the developed countries are literate enough to understand English. The problem occurs in developing countries where illiteracy rates are already high, and different languages are used. Even the trained workforce would not be able to comprehend the language.  NABH certification ensures that Hospital provides the information in the language understandable by patient and caregivers.

Connectivity

Installing Electronic Health Records needs sound internet connections since they are usually linked directly to the web and have the need to the records of other hospitals in various areas and even cities. Thus, it is no rocket science that the efficient operation of EHR depends on a good internet connection to connect to health organization around the globe. In developing countries, wireless internet systems are either non-existent or very weak which nullifies the real use of EHR.

Hacking

One the major disadvantages online systems like the EHR often go through is hacking. There are hackers who get into these systems and remove the real authorities from access, demanding a ransom to hand it over again. In developed countries, software engineers take measures to make the system hack proof and have ways to take it back, but this is not the case in the underdeveloped parts of the world, making EHR very unreliable.

Despite the numerous advantages of having electronic health records, the undeveloped countries are better off without this technology till the factors above are not looked into.

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