Government-run hospitals in the state of Maharashtra will soon be electronically inter-connected and every patient visiting the hospital will be given a unique health identity number and will have access to his medical history at any hospital across the state.All the 14 government-run medical colleges and 19 affiliates will be linked though integrated software. The move is expected to bring with it transparency in accounts as well as an increase in administrative accountability.Termed as “Hospital Management and Information System (HMIS)”, the project was flagged off by the state government’s Medical Education and Drugs Department (MEDD) in 2007.”Mumbai’s Grant medical college and J J hospital were the first government medical establishments to benefit under this project in its pilot phase. Pune’s B J medical college and Sassoon general hospital, the government medical college and hospital at Nagpur and Aurangabad are next on the list,” says Sanjay Bijwe, State Project Co-ordinator of the HMIS Project.”The HMIS project will cost approximately US$56 million and seven years to complete,” said Bijwe. The work of laying underground cable and installing computers has started at the Sassoon hospital and the hospital will formally come under the HMIS project in the next two months. The remaining hospitals and medical colleges in the state will get electronically inter-connected with an electronic medical records (EMR) facility in the next two years.Though efforts to computerise all our hospitals have been on since 1998, things started rolling only in 2003. This time round, a steering committee, comprising secretaries of finance, planning, IT, medical education and drugs departments, has been formed to oversee and review the work time and again.”In the HMIS, a unique health identity number will be given to each patient. The medical history, prescribed drug records, diagnostic tests related information, x-ray, CT Scan, MRI, allergies and all medical information of a patient will be furnished in EMR. This information will be accessible at any state government-run hospital attached to medical colleges across the state,” said Bhushan Gagrani, Secretary of MEDD.Even the inventory management of hospitals will become more effective and transparent with HMIS. “The storage and purchase of drugs, surgical equipment and the status of other clinical paraphernalia of hospital will come on an integrated software which can be viewed from anywhere in the state. But access to such portals will be privileged and limited,” said Bijwe.Similarly, government medical colleges roped in this process will be able to do all the administrative work very effectively. “Even admission, attendance and the examination schedule of a college can be tracked and monitored in the HMIS. We are also planning to upload lectures on the system so that those who have missed a particular lecture will be benefited by it. Such advance features will be added, once the basic administrative work gets streamlined in HMIS,” said Bijwe.