Uganda: New software marks the end of paper medical forms


Wilson Kutegeka's health information management system software that stores and networks patients' medical records is another master piece from a young Ugandan breaking into the world of science innovation.

Kutegaka's software called ClinicMaster captures clinical notes, prescription, diagnosis, lab tests and results and appointment schedules and reproduces them on each visit by the patient. It also provides an electronic billing solution after capturing the full medical history.

"All this is stored electronically. The intention is to eliminate paper by fully automating the hospital. It tracks the history from when one visits the hospital to the point when they leave," Kutegeka says.

Kutegeka, 37, began developing the software in 2006 and has continued modifying it to fit the needs of his growing clientele."The software will be a huge boost if adapted by public health facilities like Mulago Hospital that handle thousands of patients and have to store thousands of files," he says. The software also has a component that manages patients on antiretroviral therapy and automatically generates quarterly reports.

Although a few health insurance medical facilities have a similar software, Kutegeka says his ClinicMaster also alerts the pharmacy about drugs that are about to expire and helps in stock taking. A graduate of physics with post-graduate training in computer science from Makerere University, Kutegeka says he found a passion in writing computer programmes.

He was employed at the Joint Clinical Research Centre (JCRC), where he first tested his software. Kutegeka says having been a patient before; he had noticed the complexity of retrieving clinical data. "In some cases you are sent back home to pick your medical forms," he says.

"It is not uncommon for people in critical condition to be asked to wait until a nurse finds their medical forms."

The software costs between sh5m to sh40m, depending on the size, nature and number of people served at a health facility. Currently, ClinicMaster is used at Case Clinic in Kampala, Makerere University Walter Reed facilities in Kayunga and Mukono, Rushere Community Hospital and Luiz Memorial Medical Centre. "My wish is to see that every health centre in the region is using ClinicMaster," Kutegeka says.

He says he is now working on a component that can link health care information in all health institutions using ClinicMaster. "This will enable patients who have changed health facilities access their medical history," he says.

Kutegeka adds that he is also working on an SMS component, which can notify patients when their test results are ready. Kutegeka, who is still operating from his home in Kyengera, says although he has not patented the software, he is gazetting it to ensure intellectual property ownership.

Kutegeka says his main challenge is that people do not appreciate the software until they start using it. "It will take time for people to do away with the culture of writing on paper," he says.