We are ‘out of stock’ and ‘please come after two days’ are the most common refrains that patients get from pharmacists manning drugstores in public healthcare facilities in Hyderabad and districts. It’s a given that patients have to make multiple visits to government hospitals to avail free medicines from the pharmacy. On most occasions, they end up incurring out-of-pocket expenditure to purchase the drugs from private medical stores.
Non-availability of life saving drugs or even for that matter standard medicines needed for chronic patients like diabetics at government hospitals is a frustrating experience for patients. Till now, there was no mechanism for real-time monitoring of supply chain management i.e., the cycle of distribution of medicines from Central Drug Stores to government hospitals and to the patients.
To address such issues in the supply chain management, the authorities at Telangana State Medical Services and Infrastructure Development Corporation (TSMSIDC) have launched a 100-day programme aimed specifically at plugging the gaps through e-Aushadhi initiative.
The aim is to ensure availability of drugs, every time a patient walks into a government pharmacy. “e-Aushadhi software application has been there for past two years. But, for many reasons we have not been able to utilise it to the fullest extent. We have launched a major initiative of strengthening our supply chain management through e-Aushadhi,” says Managing Director, TSMSIDC, K Chandrasekhar Reddy.
What is e-Aushadhi?
e-Aushadhi is a real-time monitoring of supply chain management system that enables authorities at TSMSIDC to keep a close tab and also understand the distribution patterns of drugs that are issued from government hospitals.
The TSMSIDC has 10 Central Medical Stores (CMS) from where medicines are distributed to Teaching Hospitals, Area and District Hospitals, Primary and Community Health Centres in the State.
All the health care facilities are networked to the Project Monitoring Unit (PMU) at TSMSIDC in Hyderabad from where senior officials can track the flow, distribution and stock availability of all the drugs in State-run hospitals.
“There is software involved in e-Aushadhi and many in the districts including healthcare workers are not trained in using it. For the past few months, we have been conducting a series of training programmes so that healthcare workers at CHC and PHC level can also use the software,” officials said.
The TSMSIDC plans to implement e-Aushadhi software in all the 1,050 government healthcare institutions in the State. At present, there are close to 250 health care facilities that have been able to fully implement the e-Aushadhi scheme. Gaps like availability of computers and a dedicated network for the software to function are also being addressed.
What will the patient gain?
“Once the system is fully implemented, we will be able to track how many patients are receiving each drug, what is the flow in the Outpatient departments at the end of the day, how much stock of medicines there is left in the stock etc. This will enable us to make sure that the drugs are available to patients whenever they walk into the Government pharmacy,” Chandrasekhar Reddy said.
Drugs returned to companies
In the last two to three months, in their attempt to improve availability of drugs to patients at government hospitals, the health officials at TSMSIDC have returned Rs 10 crore worth of drugs to the manufacturers. By employing e-Aushadhi software, authorities are now able to track expiry dates of all the drugs that are supplied to patients in Government hospitals.
The e-Aushadhi software has a module wherein every midnight the system informs authorities about the expiry dates of medicines.
“Most of the drugs that were returned to the manufactures were either expired or nearing expiry date. Some manufacturers have also replenished fresh stocks while a few others took the loss,” MD, TSMSIDC said. Identifying expiry drugs and even slow moving drugs and removing them quickly from circulation not only improves the quality of stocks and is also beneficial to the exchequer. #KhabarLive