In April 2015, Godfrey Kuboi walked onto the Joint Clinical Research Centre’s (JCRC) campus for the first time as the organization’s Chief Programmer and the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Department head.
Although ICT, software, and hardware may not be foremost in patients’ minds when they arrive at a health facility, well functioning ICT systems are key tools that support quality and efficient health services. Unfortunately, they are often an afterthought for management.
Before Godfrey joined JCRC, the organization had poorly governed ICT policies, infrastructure, and human resource capacity. In partnership with the USAID-funded Leadership, Management, and Governance (LMG) Project, JCRC assessed their ICT capacity to identify gaps, and together developed recommendations to strengthen ICT governance, improve infrastructure, and expand human resource capacity.
“One of the key recommendations, was to strengthen management information systems at JCRC, and within those systems, the key goal was to integrate the financial management system, together with the clinical management system and the laboratory management system,” said Godfrey.
As a result of these recommendations, JCRC recruited Godfrey to spearhead the improvements. Of the three major systems that were recommended, the financial management information system was specifically identified for improvement. At the time, “JCRC had Navision 2009,” but according to Godfrey, “it was not performing to expectations.” Although it looked as though JCRC would need to purchase an entirely new software, they were able to upgrade their current software suite instead. This meant that JCRC could meet the requisite technical needs without placing undue stress on the ICT infrastructure or requiring intensive staff training.
The next recommendation reflected an earlier assessment of JCRC that identified clinical management as an important gap in need of attention. The old patient management system suffered from multiple problems including, providing inaccurate reports, duplicating data, slow processing times for patient check-in, and an inability to integrate with other JCRC systems. So JCRC’s next focus was to roll out the new Integrated Clinical Enterprise Application patient management system, which went live in November 2015. “[I]t gives accurate reports, and there are a lot of controls that ensure you do not have any duplication of data,” says Godfrey.
Finally, JCRC launched an improved Laboratory Information Management System that integrated seamlessly with these other systems. With all three systems integrated, clinicians would now be able to order lab tests with the click of a button from an examination room. Lab Techs could receive test orders in real-time and share test results back to the clinician. This means more time for seeing patients, running lab tests, or conducting research.
“One of the changes I have seen as a result of the introduction of all these new information systems on patient care management, is that it has reduced the waiting time of the patients,” said Godfrey. The previous patient management system required patients to carry paper check-in cards, and if patients lost them, it delayed the process. “But now it is a bit easier, because with the controls and systems that we put in place we are able to identify patients, and what kind of medicine they should be taking.”
Godfrey can take pride knowing that the implementation of these new integrated information systems—and his role in establishing the new ICT governance Policy—have “actually reduced the turnaround time and cost [of lab tests].” For patients, this means a smooth check-in and shorter waits, and for health workers it means less stress and more time to focus on patients.