Work in progress: Global health conference poster

Every once in a while I have to pinch myself, because I never envisioned myself working in the area of Global Health. It's amazing/crazy what opportunities come to you, if you just hang out with creative, collaborative, passionate, and hard-working people.

This past year, I went on a KidsCareEverywhere trip to Vietnam where we hosted an educational conference in Hanoi, teaching Vietnamese pediatricians how use a medical software (PEMSoft) to improve their care of kids (prior blog post). We embedded a pre-test/post-test research study question. How well do pediatricians improve their clinical knowledge after spending 3 hours learning an English-based medical decision support software?

We recently got the abstract of our study accepted into the 12th Annual Bay Area International Health Interest Group Conference, hosted by UCSF Global Health Sciences on March 7, 2010. It is at Cole Hall on the UCSF campus. We are working on the poster layout this week.

Effect of Decision Support Software on the Clinical Performance of Vietnamese Physicians
Dieckmann MG, Sharp J, Lin M, Dieckmann R


Vietnamese physicians have limited access to current medical references and “decision support” tools. Lack of availability of current information contributes to preventable morbidity and mortality. While most Vietnamese hospitals have computer systems, no previous study has evaluated the impact of computer-based medical decision support on Vietnamese physician performance. A nonprofit organization, “KidsCareEverywhere”, donates computerized decision support software to public hospitals in the developing world. In September 2009, KidsCareEverywhere, sponsored by the “UCSF Vietnam Working Group”, installed such software in Vietnam’s National Hospital of Pediatrics. The team trained the physicians in using the software, then evaluated the effect of the software on physicians’ clinical decision making skills.

All training materials were translated into Vietnamese to attain clarity, although the medical software content remained in English. Before the training, half of the study group received one set of cases on common pediatric emergencies, and the other half received a similar but distinctly different set of alternative cases. Subjects were asked to use any familiar references on pediatric emergencies to answer the pre-test questions. After the training, the physicians used the computer software to answer the post-test questions. Each cohort was given the alternative set of cases for the post-test. The primary outcome measure was the change in test scores.


This prospective, randomized crossover study of 54 physicians demonstrated a 61% improvement on test scores, assessing common pediatric emergencies (p < 0.0001).

Computer-based, English language decision support software offers an effective tool for Vietnamese physicians. Vietnam is a fertile site for this form of information support, due to extraordinary need, dramatic increases in computer availability, and the familiarity of physicians with English medical terminology.


We would like to acknowledge the invaluable assistance provided by UCSF Vietnam Working Group and the KidsCareEverywhere Board of Directors.

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