Health in Cuba aspires to have its first “paperless” hospital

Health in Cuba aspires to have its first "paperless" hospital

HAVANA, Feb. 8th. The computerization of Health in Cuba is once again an issue addressed by the country’s authorities, despite the difficult situation that Cubans are going through in the island’s medical institutions.The lack of supplies and medications adds to the unsanitary conditions of some hospital facilities, as well as the absence of doctors and nurses. All of these problems have been denounced on several occasions by Cubans.

However, the island’s government maintains the idea of applying information and communications technologies in the healthcare environment, something they consider “important”, even when there are other vital issues to resolve and that is demanded by citizens.

The debate at the Workshop to present the results of research, development and innovation projects in informatics in this field focused precisely on these technological advances in medical matters. An event organized by the University of Computer Sciences (UCI) and the company Softel, belonging to the Computer Science and Communications Business Group.

In this sense, it emerged that the National Center for Minimum Access Surgery has the aspiration of becoming this year 2024 “the first ‘paperless’ hospital in the care process; That is, its operation would be supported, to a large extent, by computer solutions,” according to a report in the state newspaper Granma.

To expand this information, the director of the UCI Medical Informatics Center, Leodán Vega Izaguirre, explained that the first steps have already been taken within that institution.

Their professionals, for example, already have their medical agenda on their phones and also have the possibility of notifying patients about a group of issues associated with the procedures, Vega indicated.

The patient’s medical history is one of the elements that will first be taken into account within this computerization process. To support its potential, specialists argued that the traditional “has greater deficiencies in its security, not being able to control who consults the data, the high costs of paper and printing necessary for the different forms, and the fragmentation of the information that takes place. when the patient is treated in several health centers.”

Vega also indicated that it is necessary to start from the infrastructure that the country has to cover, with the digital transformation, all healthcare entities.

According to the 2022 Health Statistical Yearbook, in Cuba, there are 149 hospitals, 450 polyclinics, 10,869 medical offices, 113 dentistry clinics, 149 maternity homes, 301 grandparents’ homes, 30 psycho-pedagogical medical centers and 161 intensive care rooms, among others.

Taking these numbers into account, the manager added that “we must be very coherent in what we are developing and how we are going to introduce the results into practice so that there is a perception of the progress of the digital transformation. It is a complex and expensive process.”

Regarding the electronic medical record in the Cuban context, the specialists indicated that it should be seen as “a virtual record of each event related to the health of an individual throughout their life, according to terms developed by international specialists, and with elements that allow personalized and preventive health care to be provided.”

Later, Vega spoke about the adoption, by the Ministry of Public Health (Minsap), of the hl7 interoperability standard that facilitates the electronic exchange of clinical information.

This national repository of clinical documents allows you to register a unique electronic medical record per person, store the documents generated by Health information systems, support the exchange of documents between users/systems of different technological levels, collect clinical information using structured text, obtain the longevity of information based on this architecture, and promote the independence of the transfer or storage mechanism.

According to him, this repository exists in “each of the Health information systems, and guarantees, through a mechanism, a security credential as a component that will be added to all those who develop Health systems.”

Furthermore, it can be implemented at the Health area, municipality, province, or regional levels, depending on the decisions of the Minsap and would contain consultation care, emergency medical care, clinical laboratories, admission, discharge, general sheet consultation and medical evolution, among others.

Among the challenges that Cuba faces in 2024 in the area of Health, is precisely the implementation of the generation of documents in Health information systems.

In addition, work will be done, as indicated in the aforementioned Workshop, on the “portability of the digital signature (digital certificate) of Health professionals and technicians for signing the clinical documents that make up the electronic medical record.”

Likewise, professionals in the sector will be trained and trained in the use of the Health information system and the “ethical principles and protection of personal data will be taken into account: individual authority to decide what Health information and who can view it.”