Health workers' experiences with the use of smartcare for decision making in selected health facilities in Mongu and Limulunga districts of Western province, Zambia

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Mutale, Mwango
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The University of Zambia
The advancement of information technology in the health sector has given rise to demand for timely, reliable and accurate medical/health information to treat and manage patients. One of the ways to provide timely, reliable and accurate information is through the use of Electronic Health Records systems (EHRs). Zambia has adopted EHRs called SmartCare since 2005. However, in places where the roll out has taken place, only a few health facilities are using the system fully. The study objectives were; to explore health workers experiences and perceptions on the use of SmartCare system, to explore users’ satisfaction on the benefits and challenges on using SmartCare compared to paper based record system and explore the usefulness of SmartCare system in decision making at health facility level. A qualitative phenomological study design was used to collect data through in-depth interviews. A total of 16 respondents were interviewed on the use of SmartCare by health workers for decision making. Health workers perceptions and experiences on SmartCare system were good. They pointed out that it was a good system, easier, efficient and more convenient way to store and retrieve patient files/records than paper records. However, the study also showed that, the SmartCare was not being used for decision making in all the health facilities visited due to inadequate number of health staff to manage and enter data, work overload, duplication of work, lack electric power to run computers, lack of support and regular maintenance of the equipment. To enhance utilisation of the SmartCare for planning and decision making, it is important to strengthen health system related factors such as training and deploying specialised staff to help manage the SmartCare. It is also important to develop supportive infrastructure and other support systems in the health facilities
Medical technology--Smartcare--Managment--Zambia