40 Greatest Hits: SmartCare, Zambia's Electronic Health Record System

In 2005, SmartCare was introduced to Zambia as a pilot project in Kafue District. With funding from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Jhpiego, alongside the Ministry of Health and other partners, has been a leading supporter of expanding this innovative electronic health record (EHR) system throughout Zambia—the country’s first such national medical records system.

SmartCare has been developed to improve continuity of care and provide data for patient management, including Health Management Information System (HMIS) trend reporting and analysis for health officials. The SmartCare card, which carries an encrypted copy of a patient’s health history, using a SIM chip to store data, is an integral part of SmartCare. A soft copy of a patient’s health record is saved in the database of every facility the patient visits. These data are later de-identified, and pooled at the district, provincial and national levels for monitoring, evaluation and HMIS use.

The initial SmartCare project in Kafue addressed the challenges of a resource-poor region with a mobile patient population. The goal of SmartCare is to enable the delivery of cost-effective, confidential, high-quality health care for everyone—anywhere and anytime—by improving health records and related health information systems.

Since 2005, SmartCare has been deployed to nearly 700 clinics and hospitals, in all 10 provinces of Zambia and in every district therein.

In recognizing Zambia’s innovation, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said during a 2011 visit to the country that she tried unsuccessfully to implement a similar system in the United States: “I may need to send some people [to Zambia] to see how it is done.”

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