Framework for medical collaborative systems in public hospitals : case study: Mbagathi District Hospital & Health Centres
Private healthcare institutions in Kenya have adopted Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) in their daily operations to increase efficiency, reduce costs, to improve quality of services. Information Communication Technology has transformed business organizations globally and this is evident through the changing organizational structures, communication methods and collaboration of teams across borders. In Kenya, the current patient referral process is a manual and lengthy process that involves the constant access and transfer of referral forms and letters to and from the different levels of healthcare facilities in the country. The public hospitals in Kenya lack an online collaborative system framework for the transfer of referral records when a patient has been referred from a public hospital to a referral hospital. The purpose of this research therefore is to develop a framework for a collaborative system to carry out online referral of patients. A collaborative system also supports working together and close interaction of medical personnel working on a specific patient. A case study methodology was used to study the patient referral process in Mbagathi district hospital and public health centres. The importance of using this approach is that it is used to study real world phenomena in its original context and will be applicable in studying the procedures guide the medical transfer process and the challenges facing these processes. This research studied the current transfer of patient referral records in public hospitals, analyzed the frameworks and models developed for collaborative systems and proposed a valid framework that can be used for the implementation of a healthcare collaborative system for the public health hospitals in Kenya. The research findings show that 93% of the medical practitioners give patients referral forms to carry to the referral hospital. At the same time, 83% also indicate that feedback to the local hospital is not given. This therefore calls for a need to have an online referral system that will implement the desirable characteristics as supported by the 95% of the medical staff who participated in the research findings. Upon successful completion of this research, the public hospitals will now have a validated framework that can be used to implement a collaborative system to transfer records electronically from one hospital to another. This framework will be based on the current referral guidelines issued by the Ministry of Medical Services and Ministry of Public Health and Sanitation.