Bihar to make PHCs, hospitals web-enabled

The Bihar government is set to implement a mechanism to maintain registration and treatment records of all patients at out-patient departments (OPDs) in hospitals and primary healthcare centres (PHCs). It will also ensure that government doctors do not prescribe medicines that are not on the government list in a bid to "help private medicine shops".

All hospitals and PHCs will be computerised so that the health minister and top health department officials can keep track of doctors and patients at OPDs and PHCs as well as medicines prescribed on a daily basis.

While Tamil Nadu has been following the practice selectively, Bihar will be the first state to put a mass web-monitoring system in place. There are six medical colleges and hospitals, 36 district hospitals, 70 referral hospitals, 43 sub-divisional hospitals and 399 PHCs in Bihar.

"We have worked this out and expect to put in place web-monitoring in all hospitals and PHCs by October-November. We had been receiving complaints from patients about government doctors prescribing medicines not on the government list to encourage purchase from outside," Bihar health secretary Sanjay Kumar said. "The system will ensure that a doctor first checks the government list of medicines before writing a prescription."

There are 33 types of medicines distributed to patients at OPDs. Once a patient is admitted, he or she is entitled to get free medicines from a government list of 112 medicines. The medicines, which cost the government Rs 182 crore in 2012-13, were used by more than seven crore patients at OPDs. Free medicine distribution was started in 2006-07.

"Patients complaining about not getting free government medicines will have definite answers now. Officials at each level responsible for negligence would be easily detected," Kumar said.

Asked if erring doctors would be penalised, the health secretary said though there would be no such provision, regular prescription audits would expose such doctors and the regularity at which they prescribe medicines out of the government list.

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