Regional networking between services that provide mental health care in Brazil’s decentralized public health system is challenging, partly due to the simultaneous existence of services managed by municipal and state authorities and a lack of efficient and transparent mechanisms for continuous and updated communication between them. Since 2011, the Ribeirao Preto Medical School and the XIII Regional Health Department of the Sao Paulo state, Brazil, have been developing and implementing a web-based information system to facilitate an integrated care throughout a public regional mental health care network.
After a profound on-site analysis, the structure of the network was identified and a web-based information system for psychiatric admissions and discharges was developed and implemented using a socio-technical approach. An information technology team liaised with mental health professionals, health-service managers, municipal and state health secretariats and judicial authorities. Primary care, specialized community services, general emergency and psychiatric wards services, that comprise the regional mental healthcare network, were identified and the system flow was delineated. The web-based system overcame the fragmentation of the healthcare system and addressed service specific needs, enabling: detailed patient information sharing; active coordination of the processes of psychiatric admissions and discharges; real-time monitoring; the patients’ status reports; the evaluation of the performance of each service and the whole network. During a 2-year period of operation, it registered 137 services, 480 health care professionals and 4271 patients, with a mean number of 2835 accesses per month. To date the system is successfully operating and further expanding.
We have successfully developed and implemented an acceptable, useful and transparent web-based information system for a regional mental healthcare service network in a medium-income country with a decentralized public health system. Systematic collaboration between an information technology team and a wide range of stakeholders is essential for the system development and implementation.
- health information system
- mental health
- Public health informatics
- Health management
- Health networks