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With the changing face of business in 21st century, Information and knowledge management is of critical importance in the networked economy. The industrial age was driven by "the economics of scarcity" whereas the knowledge era is driven by communications and IT, information is not scarce and the challenge is to keep up with it.
Being in a multi-facility regional hospital, adopting the computerized database system will eliminate most of the problems experienced by the manual system. Such problems may include and not limited to redundancy, wastage of floor space, insecurity due to illegal access, inefficiency and loss of data. According to Beaumont (2000), a database consists of tables, which consists of records which, consists of fields. Databases can be categorized on the virtue of what they contain for example: statistical, bibliographic, document-text, (Beaumont, 2000).
Database management system (DBMS) is used to store database contents, search, data creation, access, storage and maintenance (McCreath, 2002). Software enables the operation of the databases, storage, backup and right of entry to the databases. The DBMS are categorized in terms of the database model supported, type of computer supported, the query language that access the database and performance trade-offs.
The main features of the DBMS include; metadata, actions, queries, reporting, views, forms and programming language (Beaumont, 2000). According to Beaumont, "besides the DBMS storing the actual data put in it, it also stores details about this data and the structure in which it's kept" (Beaumont, 2000). That is the DBMS 'knows' how many tables and records there are in the database as well as what data type each field is. All this additional information is called Meta data and is very useful when finding out certain details. The user can possibly be allowed to create, read, update or delete tables, records or fields according to user rights. The design is such that the extracting of data is made easier using the querying and reporting facilities. Different users have different privileges to the database. Forms provide a method of allowing users to enter data in a friendly manner.
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The database will consist of the following tables; medical staff, patients, wards, inpatients, treatments, dependants, next of kin, staff salary and patient bills. The tables will be characterized by keys and indexes (Szolovits, 2003). A key is a field that a unique value for each record in the table. There are several varieties of keys i.e. candidate keys, foreign primary and the Super keys (Szolovits, 2003). All tables comprise of primary key. Indexing has some reward that can aid in the development of the documentation; at the end of the production cycle, index can act as an editing tool and is also able to resolve any inconsistency in terminology that can be detected (Szolovits, 2003).
In the design of the database there are certain constraints enforced in order to have a functional database . This in return allows access to the medical database without interfering with the clinical practices.
The user interface will consist of main switchboard, submenus, input forms and reports. This database will enable the effective collaboration and working among the staff. The doctor can get the lab reports without necessary leaving his desk and this will most likely reduce the operation costs (McCreath, 2002). The database will also make it easier to make reference to the patient's medical history by just entering the key identity of the patient and this will reduce the amount of time spent going through the files in the archives.
Easier referencing and improved remote cooperation among the practitioners in the institution are some of the benefits the implementation of the database management system.
This will also make various centre's and locations of the hospital to have a central place where all the information is securely stored and only authorized persons allowed to access the information.