Introduction: The use of paper for record keeping (or a manual system) has been the order of the day in almost all health care facilities in resource poor countries. This system has presented numerous challenges, which the use of Electronic Medical Records (EMR) seeks to address. The objectives of the study were to identify the facilitators and barriers to EMR implementation in Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital's (KATH) Emergency Centre (EC) and to identify lessons learned. These will help in implementation of EMR in ECs in similar settings.
Methods: This was a non-interventional, descriptive cross-sectional and purely qualitative study using a semi-structured interview guide for a study population of 24. The interviews were manually recorded and analysed thematically. EMR implementation was piloted in the EC. Some of the EC staff doubled as EMR personnel. An open source EMR was freely downloaded and customised to meet the needs of the EC. The EMR database created was a hybrid one comprising of digital bio-data of patients and scanned copies of their paper EC records.
Results: The facilitators for utilising the system included providing training to staff, the availability of some logistics, and the commitment of staff. The project barriers were funding, full-time information technology expertise, and automatic data and power backups. It was observed that with the provision of adequate human and financial resources, the challenges were overcome and the adoption of the EMR improved.
Discussion: The EMR has been a partial success. The facilitators identified in this study, namely training, provision of logistics, and staff commitment represent foundations to work from. The barriers identified could be addressed with additional funding, provision of information technology expertise, and data and power back up. It is acknowledged that lack of funding could substantially limit EMR implementation.