A software for patients' safety

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Friday, February 21, 2014


HE'S a pediatrician by profession, providing medical care to infants, children and adolescents. But other than that, he has other concerns, particularly on addressing the problem on unreadable handwritten prescriptions by medical professionals that sometimes endanger the safety of patients.

Although he has no formal training on Information Communication Technology, 42-year-old Dr. Richard Tesoro Mata developed a web-based application to address this concern and promote computerization in prescribing drugs and medicines to patients to ensure their safety.

"Well I do believe with the help of so many information in the web, anybody can do anything if he or she will be patient enough to research and study and of course ask God for wisdom," Dr. Mata said.

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He developed a software on Computerization of Prescriptions and Patient Records in a bid to address three major concerns making medical professionals reluctant to accept this new method to issue prescriptions and still practice the handwritten system.
These, Dr. Mata said, are the following:

1. Doctors think clinic computerization is difficult and may take more time than writing;

2. Software programming is expensive;
3. There is no government or medical society project that promotes computerization of prescriptions.

He said he started to develop the software 10 years ago and started using it, but it was only four years ago when he decided to design a website to make the application downloadable on the Internet.

"If a doctor's handwriting isn't readable, the chances for a hospital or pharmaceutical error go up, putting a patient at risk," he said.

He cited a well-known case wherein a cardiologist wrote a prescription for a man who was suffering from heart pains.

"Because the pharmacist couldn't read the doctor's handwriting, the prescription wasn't filled as it should have been. The patient was supposed to take drugs for his chest pains once every six hours. But because the pharmacy had filled the prescription with a completely different drug, because he wasn't taking the right drug, the man suffered from a heart attack and died," Dr. Mata said.

He said the case became a rallying point for reformers in the US pushing for more responsible prescription writing.

"They also used the study of Institute of Medicine (IOM) that reported that the sloppy handwriting of physicians is responsible for 7,000 deaths each year in the US alone.

That's why first world countries laws have been passed to discourage unreadable handwritten prescriptions and encourages computerization like the e-Prescribing law in the US," he explained.

In developing such application, Dr. Mata aims to resolve such problem before it gets worst and promote it to Filipino doctors.

He said the application is easy to use and faster than handwriting and it's for free and downloadable through the Internet.

He also initiated talks with concerned government agencies and medical societies to promote the application, after all it's free.

The software can be downloaded by visiting the website www.easyclinicsoftware.com where free and downloadable software, the PDF instruction manuals and videos on how to install and use properly and the tech support email.

The website has been online for about four years now.

"What's amazing is that, the first intention was to reach the Filipino doctors only but instead it became popular to other countries as well," Dr. Mata said.

For the past eight months there were around 14,748 doctors worldwide who visited the website, with India on top at 5,438 visitors, followed by USA (1,474) and Philippines (1,205).

Dr. Mata's application recently won second place during the first ever Philippine Health Summit Contest held at Sofitel Hotel in Manila on February 4, 2014. It was the lone Mindanao entry that made it to the finals of the competition where the top prize was won by a representative from the Dela Salle Hospital, which also won third place.

The entries were judged by representatives from the Department of Health and the Department of Science and Technology.

"Among the three winners, mine was the only one that has the advocacy for Clinic Computerization, The other two were in a different field. Making my software the most recognized Clinic Software by both DOH and DOST, based on this contest. I offer this victory to all Dabawenyos," Dr. Mata said.

"This is one step nearer to my dream that soon all Filipino doctors will be using my Software to computerize their prescriptions."

Dr. Mata finished his Doctor of Medicine at Davao Medical School Foundation in Davao City on 1997. He is married to Erika Soriano Mata. They are blessed with three children -- Patricia Angela, 13; Amanda Angela 8; and Richardo Angelo, 4.

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on February 22, 2014.

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