Dr. Richard T. Mata (Photo: Henrylito Tacio)Today’s doctors can now say goodbye to those unreadable handwritten prescriptions.
They can do so by using a web-based application developed by a physician from Davao City.
The software doesn't convert writing into computer text, but provides an efficient system for directly putting medical information into a computer database.
“The software program can computerize the admitting orders,” explained Dr. Richard T. Mata, a paediatrician and a Diplomate of Philippine Pediatrician Society.
“It can also digitalize the patient’s records in the clinic.
All the information can be saved in the desktop, laptop or even saved to an IPhone, IPad or Android.”
Once the information are saved, the doctor can have it anytime, anywhere at the tip of his finger.
The days of those old-fashioned patient cards and space-occupying cabinet (where the cards are kept) are numbered.
“The United States has already been shifting to e-prescribing for about a decade now,” Dr. Mata pointed out in his presentation during the Regional Forum on eHealth in Davao City last Friday, March 28.
“Handwritten prescriptions are being discouraged because of the findings on the danger of handwritten Rx.”
A study done by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) found out that the sloppy handwriting of physicians is responsible for 7,000 deaths each year in the US alone.
Dr. Mata said he developed the software — Computerization of Prescriptions and Patient Records — in a bid to address three major concerns in the medical profession.
1. Doctors think clinic computerization is difficult and may take a lot of time than writing;
2. Software programming is expensive; and
3. There is no government or medical society project that promotes computerization of prescriptions.
“In the software I developed, speed and being user-friendly are the two top priorities,” he said.
“I can guarantee that it is faster than writing since the doctor can just choose the prepared database of prescriptions as fast as he can look for a name in his mobile phone book.”
Dr. Mata cited several advantages of the e-prescription than the handwritten ones.
“The clearer the prescriptions, the safer for the patients,” he said.
It is also safer for the doctors for a possibility of being sued, he added.
“One major advantage of the program is that it automatically saves the prescription details under the patient’s name in the database,” he explained.
“Unlike in handwritten prescription, what the doctor has written in the paper is not duplicated word per word and be saved as file for future reference.”
Aside from the prescribed medicines, the doctor can also include other information like history, chief complaints, diagnosis, and laboratory results, among others.
“To make it even more powerful, the doctor can even synchronize the patient’s data from the personal computer to IPhone, IPad, or Android so he can review needed information anywhere,” he said.
Dr. Mata finished his medicine degree at the Davao Medical School Foundation in 1997.
He had his pediatric residency training at San Pedro Hospital of Davao.
According to him, his main intention of making medical programs was for his personal clinic use only. He wanted to provide clearer and readable Rx to his patients and simultaneously digitalized his patient records for easier retrieval and to maximize clinic space as well us mobility.
Dr. Mata said he had tried medical programs online, but felt that his needs were not fully met by what was available.
So he opted to do it himself with some professional help. He began to hone his computer programming skill on the Palm OS operating system in 1999.
A popular software at that time was the award winning HanDBase by DDH Software. The best thing about it was its “costumizable database program” (that runs in Desktop and Mobile Devices).
As such, it became a favorite of medical practitioners.
Through long hours of studying the manuals and tutorial videos for several years and communication with David Haupert (the founder of DDH Software himself), Dr. Mata was able to design medical programs which he used in his practice.
After three years of improving the program (through daily application, trial and error and upgrading), Dr. Mata passed it for an international software contest and was chosen the winner of Applet of the Year 2008 by DDH Software.
Aside from doctors and patients, the program Dr. Mata developed also benefits the nurses and pharmacists.
On pharmacists, Dr. Mata said: “Their job will become easier as they won’t have a hard time deciphering a doctor’s hand writing.
They will also be safe from the consequences of giving the wrong medicines to patients.”
Nurses don’t seem to complain but like pharmacists, they also have some difficulties in understanding the handwritten prescriptions that comes their way at the emergency room.
“High clarity is a must, especially for patients to be admitted because everything relies on what’s being written.
The nurses just administer what is being written,” Dr. Mata said.
Doctors who are reading this piece should listen.
The downloadable software is free.
Please visit his website: www.easyclinicsoftware.com.
“Our first intention was to reach the Filipino doctors only,” he admitted, “but instead it became popular to other countries as well.”
For the past eight months, around 14,748 doctors worldwide visited the website, with India on top at 5,438 visitors, followed by United States (1,474), and Philippines (1,205).
But Dr. Mata has a dream.
He wants to see the Philippines in the future to be the first country in the world to issue prescriptions that are computerized. — TJD, GMA News