Caritas Czech Republic has been supporting Georgia’s healthcare system since its mission’s establishment in 2015. Since then, we have been working not only on the capacity-building of family doctors, but also on the introduction of IT solutions to primary healthcare. Within the framework of the Czech Development Agency-funded project, various electronic information products were created, many of which significantly contributed to the increase of the quality of primary healthcare in rural areas and to the management of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
Czech Development Agency Supports the Second Phase of the Project
In 2018-2020, Caritas Czech Republic implemented the first phase of the project that aimed at improving the quality of primary healthcare services in Georgia. Except for the capacity-building of rural doctors, the project envisaged the development of electronic tools for assessing the quality of medical services in primary healthcare at five selected pilot clinics in Tbilisi.
Within the project, experts in the field created special electronic products and integrated them into the respective systems of the pilot facilities as well as on the servers of the Ministry of Health of Georgia. That enabled the evaluation and further improvement of the quality of the following clinical processes: immunization coverage rates, management of child growth and development, blood pressure and glucose screening services, smoking status assessment and monitoring services.
Aleksander Turdziladze, Managing Partner of Consulting and IT Innovations (CITI) has been leading the IT direction of both phases of the Czech Development Agency-funded project – “Support to Primary Healthcare Strengthening in Georgia”. Turdziladze says that after the successful implementation of the first phase of the project in 2018-2020, and at the initiative of the Ministry of Health of Georgia, the second phase of the project was planned in 2020 and the creation of electronic information systems became one of the two main priorities:
"However, in parallel with the launch of the second phase of the project, COVID-19 pandemic began, thus, some of the project activities were changed and implemented to manage the pandemic."
Caritas Czech Republic's IT Solutions Significantly Contributed to the Management of COVID-19 Pandemic
The ongoing and conducted activities of the second phase of the project implied the development and implementation of several IT products, including the COVID-19 laboratory system (CovidLab), which collects and manages laboratory results from medical facilities and two-way integration engines to exchange information between medical institutions and laboratories; Moreover, Caritas Czech Republic and its partner CITI also created electronic platform of unified queues, telemedicine and referrals for the primary healthcare named www.booking.moh.gov.ge, which has been used by the population of Georgia to make online bookings for COVID-19 vaccinations.
According to Aleksander Turdziladze, by integrating the information systems into state electronic systems, it became possible to transfer the data about patients’ laboratory results and COVID-19 vaccination. Based on this information, the Ministry of Health of Georgia and other state institutions had timely and reliable information to make relevant technical and political decisions during the pandemic. This data was also useful for the government to have an information about passengers’ COVID history to allow them to travel abroad within the COVID-19 restrictions.
It is important to note that the interest in the above-mentioned electronic systems is still high and some activities are underway to expand the area of their use. In particular, with the financial support of the UNICEF and UNFPA, it is planned to use mentioned electronic systems for further modernization of cancer screening and state antenatal programs as well as the management of the growth and development of children ages 0-5.
Creating an Internal Information System for Primary Healthcare Facilities
Digitization of medical records for using them in primary healthcare facilities is another very important part of the initiative funded by the Czech Development Agency.
Currently, we are piloting these systems in rural outpatient clinics of Dusheti and Zugdidi municipalities and in several primary healthcare facilities in Tbilisi. To this end, Caritas Czech Republic’s project experts are conducting online training sessions as well as onsite supervision for rural family doctors. As Turdziladze explains, after the pilot is completed, the main task will be to hand over this system to the Ministry of Health of Georgia for its nationwide use and further development.
Within the project, in close cooperation with the Ministry of Health of Georgia, our experts have also created various legislative documents, the timely approval of which will lead to the complete removal of paper carriers from the health sector and the digitization of respective processes.
Introduction of Unified Medical Records in Primary Healthcare
One of the most significant parts of the project is the creation and introduction of a unified system of medical records in primary healthcare, which will make it possible to collect and unify information about patient’s anamnesis and use it by doctors from different clinics to correctly diagnose and treat a patient:
"This system will help the doctor to make an informed decision, as in the case of a patient’s will, she will have an access to the results of analysis and examinations of a patient conducted before. This is the standard that the whole world is striving for. Considering some other ambitious steps taken within the project before, I think that if this system is introduced, the country's healthcare will take the biggest step forward.” – notes Aleksander Turdziladze, Managing Partner of Consulting and IT Innovations (CITI).
The Aim of Caritas Czech Republic’s Project
Within the framework of the project supported by the Czech Development Agency, Caritas Czech Republic closely cooperates with the Ministry of Health of Georgia and Georgian Medical Holding. The aim of the project is to strengthen primary healthcare through the introduction of PHC quality management instruments, the development of countrywide comprehensive IT solutions, updating qualification standards and requirements, and the establishment of career-long learning programs for primary healthcare professionals.
The project pilot has been completed in Mtskheta-Mtianeti region and is underway in selected municipalities of Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti regions. At the same time, the project continues to enhance the system of quality measurement and improvement at five pilot medical facilities in Tbilisi as part of Phase I. In total, 46 primary medical facilities will be included in the Project.
The article was prepared within the framework of a project supported by the Official Assistance for Development Cooperation of the Czech Republic.