Many hospitals in Vietnam are transforming their IT services by upgrading to more expensive, smarter systems to improve their services and quality.

Stronger demand from consumers, who have become more aware about quality healthcare services, has prompted the trend.

More sophisticated IT applications are important, hospital representatives have said, because of the shortage of human resources and infrastructure.

With more investment in IT, hospitals hope they can move from a volume-based business to a value-based one.

In addition, these investments allow doctors to focus more on people, not paperwork.

IT in Vietnam in recent years has been used to develop e-hospitals, build and develop strong clinic data systems and manage financial matters.

Sai Gon International Hospital, a major healthcare establishment in Ho Chi Minh City, is one of many hospitals nationwide, like the Dong Nai International Hospital and the Psychiatry Hospital in the city's District 8, that have invested a great deal in developing e-hospital systems.

Le Thanh Binh, head of the hospital's IT Department, told Viet Nam News that it began using IT in 2009 and has invested more in advanced e-systems, with a total of 2 billion VND (95,000 USD) this year.

Several months ago, the hospital began to apply a new information management solution, including data warehouse IBM DB2 and business analytics IBM Cognos, which have helped the hospital to manage an increasing volume of data that can be analysed to offer actionable insights.

"The initial time was so difficult because everything was new. Now, however, it has gone well. The information and code of every patient will be sent immediately to every department and faculty right after they come to the check-in counter," he said.

"It has helped us save 70-80 percent of time that we spent when we did work manually."

FV Hospital's ICT Director Tran Phuong Dong also said that thanks to IT solutions, his hospital could now manage patients and avoid financial losses much better.

"An integrated IT system that connects all information will help hospital do that," he said.

Experts from the IT sector believe that investments in IT would help lower risks.

"There will be no more inaccurate test results. Any inaccurate information related to patients and financial matters will be reported soon to managers so they can fix them immediately," said Nguyen Thanh Binh, CEO of BSM Software Corporation which has provided IT solutions for many hospitals in Vietnam.

Nguyen Phuc Dung, IBM's Client Technical Professional, said that both hospitals and patients benefited from modern IT solutions.

"Hospitals can easily manage all data as well as treatment history of their patients. Meanwhile, the patient can easily find their own information even when they stay at home. Also, they can use these data when they move to another hospital," he said.

Profits that IT brings to hospitals can clearly be seen. However, not all of the hospitals can apply IT in the most effective way.

Their study showed that the application of IT in hospitals is still widespread and many hospitals have applied it but not in an effective manner, Dung said.

He explained that hospitals had set up IT systems randomly in an uncoordinated way, and thus it was difficult for their staff and doctors to have a unified view.

To effectively apply IT solutions, it is necessary to have an integrated system to connect everything, he said.

He also added that to save costs, hospitals must find experienced companies and work with local solution developers who could help them avoid risks and problems that other hospitals have faced.-VNA