TCM takes high tech turn

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 June, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 June, 2011, 12:00am

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TCM is getting a 21st-century makeover in Hong Kong.

The Hospital Authority hopes to systemise its knowledge base through the Chinese Medicine Information System, a pioneering project launched in 2003 to modernise Chinese medicine.

Let's say you are not feeling well while you're out, and you go to the nearest Chinese medicine clinic, rather than your usual one. Choose any of the Hospital Authority's 15 Chinese Medicine Centres for Training and Research across the city and your personal records will be there when you visit. Your consultation, treatment and medication history follow you across the centres, allowing the practitioner, even if meeting you for the first time, to more accurately diagnose and treat you by tracking your health history.

Even if you don't happen to be at any of the 15 centres, any authorised Chinese medicine practitioner with an internet connection will be able to access the information system at outreach service centres or inpatient hospitals to retrieve and update your electronic medical record. Your records are secure under token and PIN protection. This is especially handy for elderly people and those who live far from a centre.

The system integrates data across all the centres without using paper, which is an environmentally friendlier and more efficient way to share information and research.

This is especially helpful when it comes to herbs, a fundamental component of Chinese medicine. In the standardised database, every herb is given a product code, which holds information such as its name, specifications, recommended dosage, possible interactions with other herbs and stock levels.

After the practitioner gives you a prescription, it is transferred through the system to the pharmacy, where staff check the medications before dispensing and, with bar code scanners, you are assured that you go home with the right medication.

Worried about safety? The information system will help keep watch. If a herb is suspected to be contaminated, the system can compile a list of patients who were prescribed with that batch. The staff will quickly contact the patients, greatly reducing risk. Online bookings will soon be available.

Source: Hospital Authority