HCMC needs specific policies to develop smart healthcare for patients’ sake

Ho Chi Minh City needs to have specific policies and mechanisms to develop smart healthcare for patients’ sake, said Dr. Le Truong Giang, Chairman of the Ho Chi Minh City Public Health Association.


HCMC needs specific policies to develop smart healthcare for patients’ sake ảnh 1 Dr. Nguyen Anh Dung, Deputy Director of the HCMC Department of Health, speaks at the meeting

This morning, the Department of Culture and Social Affairs and the municipal People's Council organized a monitoring session on the implementation of the Project ‘Smart Health for the period 2021-2025 with a vision to 2030’ with the participation of representatives from departments of Finance, Planning - Investment, Internal Affairs, Information - Communication and Social Insurance of Ho Chi Minh City under the chairmanship of Head of the Department of Culture and Society of the HCMC People’s Council Cao Thanh Binh.

Speaking about the implementation of the smart health project for the period 2021-2025 and a vision to 2030 at the Department of Health of Ho Chi Minh City, Dr. Nguyen Anh Dung, Deputy Director of the HCMC Department of Health, said that in recent years, the health sector has deployed information technology application in many activities with an orientation towards smart health.

Specifically, the Department of Health in the southern largest city has implemented the construction of big data on the health and disease patterns of the city's residents with the goal of creating electronic health record data. More than 5,000 profiles have been created so far. It is expected that by 2025, every resident of Ho Chi Minh City will have an electronic health record.

Hospitals have prioritized resources in investment and development of information technology (IT) infrastructure to be eligible to deploy electronic medical records. In reality, 22/25 hospitals have been equipped with HIS hospital management software, 53/55 hospitals have implemented laboratory information systems (LIS), 36/55 hospitals have implemented information systems diagnostic imaging (RIS), 11/53 hospitals have information storage and image acquisition systems (PACS), 41/55 hospitals have developed plans to deploy electronic medical records.

HCMC needs specific policies to develop smart healthcare for patients’ sake ảnh 2 Mr. Tang Huu Phong, Editor-in-Chief of SGGP Newspaper, speaks at the meeting
Currently, 22/28 first-class hospitals can implement electronic medical records in 2023 in accordance with the roadmap of the Ministry of Health. Along with that, hospitals all focus on adopting IT applications such as applications to look up medical examination and treatment places, online health applications, non-cash payment and online appointments with the aim to facilitate patients.

However, according to Dr. Nguyen Anh Dung, the health sector also faces many difficulties and challenges when implementing smart healthcare because the current IT infrastructure and application software in medical facilities have not been properly invested. Moreover, information management software systems in hospitals were deployed very early and were not upgraded in time, so the technology used in the software is outdated.

Besides, infirmaries are short of IT staff; plus, IT investment costs have not been included in the cost of collection of hospital fees, leading to difficulties in new investment and re-investment in the operation of information technology systems at health facilities. As a result, medical facilities must use the career development fund for investment.

In addition, the implementation time of IT investment projects is still long due to complicated investment procedures, so investing in information technology infrastructure is not easy. Medical establishments are not invested synchronously.

Dr. Le Truong Giang, said that no matter what application the health sector uses if city dwellers don't use it, it's a failure. Currently, IT applications for smart health only stop serving the general management of the sector while the operations of hospitals and patients’ sake are not taken into account whereas patients’ benefit is the most important when adopting IT applications.

Mr. Tang Huu Phong, Editor-in-Chief of SGGP Newspaper, said that there is a disparity between hospitals in implementing the smart health project. Additionally, the approval of projects in hospitals is still slow, and lack of synchronization leads to the implementation and procurement of incompatible equipment and machinery. Besides, the shortage of human resources for the implementation of this project at each hospital is also a problem. He suggested that it is necessary to have a thorough look at security, data safety and shared data networks after nearly 1.5 years of implementing the smart health project and the implementation of the people's smart health project.

Mr. Cao Thanh Binh said that the health sector in Ho Chi Minh City needs to reconsider how people respond and use IT applications that have been deployed, with a particular focus on the frequency of use, and the effectiveness of the application.

In addition, the health sector must synthesize and evaluate resources to create a positive impact in the development of smart health with the goal that people can integrate and connect no matter where they are living.

In the immediate future, the health sector needs to study the connection between hospitals, initially testing the link in a few hospitals, then expanding to all medical facilities citywide. In addition, the health sector also needs to propose a number of specific policies to support the implementation of the Smart Health Project such as IT infrastructure, and IT human resources, not only for public hospitals but private establishments also.