Research Article

Sympmed I: computer program for primary health care.

BMJ 1988; 297 doi: (Published 01 October 1988) Cite this as: BMJ 1988;297:841
  1. M. W. Uplekar,
  2. N. H. Antia,
  3. P. S. Dhumale
  1. Foundation for Research in Community Health, Worli, Bombay.


    Sympmed I is an experimental computer program that identifies and offers treatment to outpatients whose symptoms can be effectively and safely treated. To verify the safety of using such a package an evaluation of Sympmed I was carried out. The patients' symptoms were entered into the computer by a junior doctor and then by a non-medical person, an engineer. The prescriptions offered by the program were compared with those given by a general practitioner after examining the patient. It was found that 390 of 500 (78%) patients in the first group and 276 of 400 (69%) patients in the second group were offered prescriptions comparable to the ones given by the general practitioner, and the rest were advised to see a doctor. In no case was a patient offered treatment when he or she needed to see a doctor. The results of the evaluation confirm that most problems seen by first level medical personnel in developing countries are simple, repetitive, and treatable at home or by a paramedical worker with a few safe, essential drugs, thus avoiding unnecessary visits to a doctor.