Dharamshala: The Department of Health of the Central Tibetan Administration is working towards developing a comprehensive electronic Health Information System (HIS). It aims to produce a healthier Tibetan community based on relevant evidence-based data collection and analysis, and to achieve more effective health policy, plans and projects.install HIS programming software and feed data.
The department first launched the program on community health data recording and analysis in 1990. The first analysed report of the community-based Health Information System was released in the form of a book called “The Demographic and Health Surveillance of the Tibetan Refugee in India” in 1998.
In 2005, further efforts were made to enhance the data collection system in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Atlanta. Mr Ondrej Mac of CDC surveyed all the Tibetan settlements in India and developed a new data collection format which was implemented in 2008.
However, since the data system was manually operated, the department felt for the need of a more efficient electronic system to evolve a policy shift from short-term curative health care system to a holistic and preventive health care.
Later, the department proposed the Health Information System project to the Tibet Fund as a component of the US Humanitarian Assistance grant in 2009. Consequently, an electronic health data collection system was created with the voluntary initiatives by Mr Nigel Griffith and Mr Tenzin Lhadar, who are IT experts based in Australia. After training some selective departmental staff, the system was launched in Bir and Dekyiling Tibetan settlements on trial basis.
On Tibet Fund’s recommendation, the system was reviewed by the department’s epidemiologist consultant Dr Lobsang Tsering and Dr Tia Ling. The consultants provided technical assistance in strengthening and modification of the system, epidemiological study of selective diseases, creating new disease classification and indicators of monitoring and reporting mechanisms within the CTA health system.
The department organised a trainers’ training on the new Health Information System in Dharamsala this week from 6 – 9 September. Eleven doctors and 11 nurses from Tibetan Delek Hospital and 6 Tibetans health centres attended the four-day training conducted by Dr Alex Vu and Dr Kiemann Pham of John Hopkins University, Mr Nigel Griffith and Dr Lobsang Tenzin.
The participants are required to pass on what they have learned to staff in their respective health centers, such as how to
The system includes a user-friendly data entry redesign, unique patient ID number for each hospital or clinic and complete list of health conditions with disease classification. A watch list of important health conditions such as TB, hepatitis and diabetes is included. Tables and graphs can easily be created to inform the public, and enable health decisions and intervention planning.
“This new data collection will ensure uniform and mainstream tracking of the health status of scattered Tibetan population in exile, and improvement in managing infectious diseases such as TB, which are very difficult to track in a mobile population such as ours,” a health department official coordinating the training said.
“Policies and procedures to address the service needs of the Tibetan community will be driven by the results of the HIS data,” the official said.