Introduction of ePIS transforms patient information management in Bhutan

The Electronic Patient Information System (ePIS) at the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital (JDWNRH) has come a long way since its launch on 18 April 2023. Initially, there were a lot of challenges, but this comprehensive Electronic Health Record (EHR) system is now revolutionizing patient information management.

ePIS encompasses all aspects of patient data management, including demographics, diagnoses, treatments, medications, allergies, laboratory results, and imaging studies. However, its initial launch faced significant hurdles, with internet connectivity coming first on the list.

A JDWNRH official reported that on the first day, the network couldn’t handle the simultaneous logins as many staff members were using ePIS for the first time. Those who managed to log in had to contend with slow uploads and delays in accessing patient information.

The laboratory department faced the challenge of requiring each machine to be integrated into ePIS. This complex process involved ensuring that machines could identify prescribed tests, and track samples from collection to report generation, which initially proved problematic.

However, ePIS has improvised significantly since its start. The project, which initially fell under the Ministry of Health, is now overseen by GovTech.

Tandin Dorji, an official from MoH, shared that the system has expanded its reach to Gelephu and Mongar Hospitals. He said, “The issues related to system functionality, internet connectivity, and laboratory integration have been successfully addressed, and the system is now running smoothly at JDWNRH.”

The ePIS rollout currently includes the Outpatient Department (OPD) module, but the developer team at the tech park is actively working on additional modules, He added. He also said that the Minor troubleshooting is addressed promptly by backend developers when informed via group.

One step forward is the resolution of laboratory integration issues, enabling doctors to access lab reports, X-rays, and CT scans directly from their laptops. This development has streamlined the diagnostic process, enhancing patient care.

A doctor at JDWNRH shared about the remarkable progress of ePIS. He highlighted the system’s ability to replace paper-based prescriptions and record patient details digitally. He said, “Doctors can now access patient information on their laptop screens,”  marking a significant shift on the challenges faced from the initial launch in April.

The doctor emphasized the potential for ePIS to evolve further, with enhanced services in the coming years. The system can also be capable of addressing the issue of patient tokens, which can bring in a more accountable and efficient healthcare system in the future.

Meanwhile, a doctor at Mongar Hospital shared the transformative impact of ePIS. He shared that, despite initial challenges, the system now records every detail of patient interactions, eliminating the need for excessive paperwork. He cited the example of blood test reports being instantly accessible without the need for hardcopy prescriptions, reducing the reliance on physical copies.

He said, “The system allows doctors to schedule appointments and treatment plans within the system,” potentially bringing in appointment transparency in the future. The doctor acknowledged Internet connectivity issues but expressed hope about ongoing improvements.

Highlighting the system’s flexibility, he also shared that doctors can take the given laptops home, and for any tasks or emergency prescription, one can update digitally staying at home or remotely. Additionally, ePIS can also be greatly used while referring patients to other dzongkhags and any organizations for data-sharing.

With ePIS now operational in the Outpatient Department (OPD) module, it has opened doors for easy sharing of patient information, both within and other dzongkhags, with a simple click of a button. This revolutionary step is paving the way for a more efficient and accountable healthcare system in Bhutan.

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