This week a delegation from the Tunisian Health Ministry is in Toledo attending a training workshop until Thursday for the “Implementation of a Medical-Economic Information System at Pilot Hospitals” project, led by FIIAPP and financed with 1.3 million euros from the European Commission (EC). The Castilla-La Mancha Health Service (SESCAM) is the institution providing the training. This visit, the fifth by Tunisian ministry officials to Spain for this purpose, is the prelude to the final steps of the project.
The countdown has begun. In approximately one month, Tunisia will start using a pioneering manual hospital information management system at six pilot hospitals in the country which, in the long run, will deliver more efficient health service to citizens. “In Tunisia there is no such thing as unique clinical documentation for each patient. Although the specialists treating patients are all in the same hospital, when a patient sees the ophthalmologist, this doctor doesn’t know if the person has had any other type of illness. The information system we have implemented is unified”, explains Miguel Ángel Soria, Director General of Healthcare and Quality at SESCAM, the Spanish manager of this twinning project. This gap makes it more difficult, for example, to detect possible links between different pathologies.
“Each patient will have a registration number, and all of his or her clinical documentation will be together. This is what makes it pioneering. It’s the same system Spain implemented in ’85”, adds Soria. To reach this point, Spanish experts on the subject have also been visiting Tunisia to provide training since the project began in January 2012.
It is also pioneering because it will enable economic analysis of the service provided by hospitals. The lack of control of the average patient stay or the services provided can, among other things, raise the cost of healthcare and increase waiting lists. “We want each Tunisian hospital to be capable of evaluating its spending and better rationalizing it”, indicates Hassen Ben Salem, project manager in Tunisia.
Now the time has come to manage this documentation. According to Soria, it is anticipated that this documentation will be managed by hospitals on paper for one or two years before being computerized to facilitate economic analysis. In April 2014, the twinning project will end, but both parties are interested in continuing it under the leadership of FIIAPP to address the digitization process and, if this is successful, extending the project to the entire Tunisian health network.