0In Lao P.D.R., the Ministry of Health, headed by the Minister, has the strong intention to utilize ICT in the health and medical fields, and the “ICT Master Plan (ver.1) for MOH” was established in October 2008.
The e-Government Network, led by the National Authority for Science and Technology, which is to be commonly utilized by all the government ministries and agencies, is put into operation mainly in Vientiane capital and under expansion to provincial capitals.
For the Ministry of Health, it is vital to introduce e-health applications in an effective and efficient manner to realize the aforementioned ICT Master Plan by utilizing the ICT infrastructure in e-Government Network.
Thus, in order to effectively promote the ICT application in the health and medical fields, the collaborative research team of Japan and Lao P.D.R. has conducted the study on the scheme and methodology of “How to develop, maintain, and utilize the comprehensible e-health contents” under the support of APT
(EBC-J2) scheme – 2008.
1.10.2 Summary and Purpose of this System
The results of the collaborative research are fruitful and there are high interests and demands for the realization. Therefore, as the practical and sustainable way forward, the pilot project under the support of APT (EBC-J3) scheme – 2009 has been implemented with the purposes of:
1. Establishment of ICT Access Points for proper information provision to the public (especially health and medical information) by expanding the existing e-Government Network.
2. Deployment of the ICT facilities available for (but not limited to):
‒ Remote consultation between Central Hospital and Provincial Hospital.
‒ e-Education for doctors, nurses, and other medical staff.
3. It is highly expected the pilot project would be:
‒ the best practice of effective utilization of e-Government network;
‒ paving the way for the Network expansion into rural areas.
As shown in Figure 6Error: Reference source not found, the dot line area shows the part installed in the pilot project. Main part is the IP Microwave Radio System to provide connection for Luangphabang Provincial Hospital in order to connect to the e-Government Network led by the National Authority for Science and Technology. The two hospitals in the map placed at the bottom right of Figure 6 are connected through the e-Government Network.
Figure 7 shows the system overview of the pilot project. In Mittaphab Hospital, Main Server for Web Video Conference System and File Server, and 2 client PCs are installed. Back-up Server for secured system operation is located in Ministry of Health headquarters. In Luangphabang Provincial Hospital, 2 client PCs and 1 PC for Open ICT Access Point are installed.
Figure 6: Network overview of the pilot project
For Remote Consultation between doctors, the Web Video Conference System is used for the more understandable communication. Also, document files such as Consultation Reports can be shared through the File Server.
For e-Education, the contents stored in the File Server can be accessed remotely. In addition, the recording function of the Web Video Conference System is quite useful. For example, seminars can be recorded in synchronization with the slide show and explanation for them.
Public who visit the hospital can access health information easily from the ICT Access Point located at the lobby in Luangphabang Provincial Hospital. In addition, automated data synchronization is activated between Main and Back-up Servers. In case of server trouble, system availability can be kept by switching the connection to the Back-up Server.
1.10.3 Major Implemented Items
Major implemented items under the pilot project:
IP Microwave Radio System has been installed to expand the e-Government Network to the Provincial Hospital.
Central Database has been assembled for compiling medical contents database, including back-up system.
Web Video Conference System has been installed.
Open ICT Access Point to the public has been established in the Provincial Hospital.
Figure 7: System overview of APT (EBC-J3) project
With the system installed, the ICT environment for project sites was improved.
As a result, we have ready conditions for more understandable communication for Remote Consultation, compensation for the insufficiency of practical training, and provision of proper information to the public with full system installation and continuous utilization. Our aim “improvement of health and medical environment with ICT for rural areas” has just been achieved as the pilot case in Lao P.D.R.
Starting from the establishment of the ICT Master Plan for Ministry of Health, our 3-year continuous activities on the pilot project have come to a conclusion. However, the conclusion of the pilot project is not the goal, and we have the strong intention to step forward to the practical deployment of ICT in health. The system installed reflects the real need to fill the gaps between demands and the actual situation. Thus, the success of the pilot project would be paving the way for the expansion to other provinces and the establishment of nationwide networks of e-health.
As the next step, we will make a comprehensive review on the concluded activities to ensure Roadmap & Action Plan for Practical Implementation, Practical solutions for the identified issues, [Namely, more practical work than theoretical]; Skilled personnel for sustainable enhancement.
These are indispensable for the practical deployment of ICT in health. Therefore, we are applying for the APT (EBC-J2) 2010 program and will keep our close relationship with the current project member organizations. Also, we have set our sights on best practice sharing with other sectors in Lao P.D.R. and with other countries.
Our further target is to formulate the practical project for ICT enhancement in not only Lao P.D.R. but also other developing countries.