International award for Innovative Computer Software 

A new Sri Lankan computer company, Lunar Technologies Pvt Ltd, has won an international award for innovative hospital software. Judged by the editors of the magazine Computer World , the award was sponsored by the US Company InterSystems which produces the Caché database used for the software.

Inter Systems were celebrating, in Orlando , Florida , 30 years of their own innovation in computer database development. The software was recently installed in the Eastern Province where it now stores information on all patients admitted to the government hospitals in Batticaloa District. It was developed for the Ministry of HealthCare and Nutrition in collaboration with the World Health Organization. The development was funded by the Austrian/Swiss Red Cross using money raised for tsunami-hit areas. Work started on the project in July 2006. The first small hospital ( Chenkalady Rural Hospital ) started using computers in February 2007. The first large hospital in the project (Batticaloa Teaching Hospital) started in April 2007. By the end of 2007, 11 hospitals in Batticaloa District were using computers. The computer program is designed to improve the documentation of patients treated in hospitals in Sri Lanka and to speed up the notification of infectious diseases.

In each hospital there is a computer installed at the front desk where patients are registered and another in each ward where they are treated. In the wards the staff can see patient details and enter the diagnosis into the computer. This can then print useful reports such as the bed head ticket and patient discharge letters. The system contributes to public health by notifying cases to the Medical Officers of Health and producing health statistics automatically. While Hospital Information Systems have been used in the West for many years, there has been little success in computerizing medical information in developing countries. This is due to the complexity of most commercial databases and the need for large expensive computers to run them. The Caché database system from InterSystems is not like that. It is easy to program and runs quicker than other commercial databases. This means that it can be installed on low-cost computers. A small PC costing 100,000 Rupees is sufficient to run a Caché-based database in a rural hospital.

Dr. Pole believes that this is just the beginning of more interesting developments to come, as the System has the potential for improvement to cover many other areas in patient care & hospital information. The system provides a good start to the computerization of hospitals in Sri Lanka , and may even prove useful in other developing countries.

Pictured with the award is Dr Denham Pole (Managing Director) left, and Mr Senthilruban Thurairajasingam (Senior Software Engineer) right, of Lunar Technologies (Pvt) Ltd.