Improving Information Management for Better Patient Outcomes

Mishandling of patient files was causing problems at Maamba hospital in Sinazongwe District, Zambia. After patient visits, files were being lost or misplaced. A poor filing system resulted in delayed attention to patients, lengthy patient wait times, and significant staff time wasted on locating files.

Through the Management Leadership Academy, the hospital management team identified and defined shortfalls that affected daily operations of the hospital. File management and patient wait time rose to the top as issues that could be addressed without additional funding.

While the hospital did not have the ability to computerize patient files, they applied a new strategy to improve the existing filing system in the registry. Patient files are now labeled for easy access when needed. Drugs are now grouped and filed alphabetically. All files are placed in a box after a drug is dispensed for easy collection and organization.

Management meetings are held three times a month to strategize and share tasks and responsibilities for weekly and monthly operations. New committees meet monthly to address other hospital functions and improve communication among departmental heads.

As a result, the hospital has improved average patient wait times from 40 minutes to only 10 minutes. Files can be located easily now, even by non-registry staff. The pharmacy is organized and drugs are monitored for inventory, expiration dates and usage. Staff members are motivated because they have a role to play in the management of the hospital affairs through records management. Committee meetings have enhanced communication and improved information management at the hospital. Nine out of 10 patients who were interviewed after the reorganization acknowledged that the quick accessibility of their files is a significant improvement.