Using Technology to Provide Better Care

From the Field

“There are no ordinary moments in life. Yet, most of us don’t recognize the most significant moments when they happen.”  Dr. Bill Magee, Co-Founder Operation Smile

After a chance  meeting on an airplane four years ago, Operation Smile and Microsoft Health began a partnership with a shared goal – to change lives.  Through the use of innovative technology solutions, Operation Smile is able to provide better care to our patients and scale our global impact even further.

Operation Smile holds over 180 international medical missions every year, and the physical location and team of highly skilled medical volunteers varies from mission to mission. In many of the most remote locations in which we work volunteer teams encounter challenges with internet connectivity and communication. Organizing and coordinating surgical missions, volunteers, and staff around the world, in addition to maintaining a record of global patient data, is quite an undertaking.  Partners like Microsoft, Sláinte Healthcare and ASUS work in tandem to provide technology that is flexible and able to adapt to the unique needs of our patients and caregivers. 

Since our first medical mission in 1982, Operation Smile has provided more than 220,000 free surgical procedures in over 60 countries. For more than 30 years, our volunteer doctors and medical professionals have used paper medical charts and handwritten notes to document patient data during these missions.  The challenge with this process is that there is incredibly valuable information being captured in these charts with no efficient way to search and analyze that critical information.

In November 2014, during a medical mission to Hanoi, Vietnam, a digital patient assessment process was launched for the first time. All of the patient data was collected using a new electronic medical records (EMR) system called Vitro with technology donated by Microsoft, Sláinte Healthcare and ASUS.

On the first morning of this mission, volunteers were walked through how to use the electronic medical records system. “The fact that 40-plus volunteers were able to utilize the EMR with just a few minutes of training speaks volumes about Vitro’s ability to easily automate workflow,” said Paul Smolke, Industry Managing Director of Worldwide Health at Microsoft.

During the Hanoi mission, Operation Smile medical volunteers were able to capture data digitally - for the very first time - from 284 patient evaluations and 116 patients who received life-changing surgery.

“It’s quick and easy to learn and it’s enabling them to increase efficiency as well as gain medical insight from the data collected that will help improve care and track outcomes. Operation Smile also hopes that data insights from its EMR will ultimately help the organization identify causes of facial differences for children,” said Smolke.

“If I were to put it in a nutshell, Microsoft has allowed us to dream very, very big” said Dr. Bill Magee. “Now we can put the technology behind our dreams to make them happen. Who knew that an ordinary moment on an airplane could have such extraordinary potential for creating positive change in the world?”

To learn more about our new electronic medical records system and how we used the technology in Hanoi, Vietnam, visit the Microsoft in Health blog. Operation Smile partners with leading corporations to form a mutually beneficial and sustainable collaboration based on a shared passion for helping children in need. If you or your business are interested in partnering with Operation Smile, please visit our Corporate Giving page.