Background: China's healthcare system often struggles to meet the needs of its 900 million people living in rural areas due to major challenges in preventive medicine and management of chronic diseases. Here we address some of these challenges by equipping village doctors (ViDs) with Health Information Technology and developing an electronic health record (EHR) system which collects individual patient information electronically to aid with implementation of chronic disease management programs. Methods: An EHR system based on a cloud-computing architecture was developed and deployed in Xilingol county of Inner Mongolia using various computing resources (hardware and software) to deliver services over the health network using Internet when available. The system supports the work at all levels of the healthcare system, including the work of ViDs in rural areas. An analysis done on 291,087 EHRs created from November 2008 to June 2011 evaluated the impact the EHR system has on preventive medicine and chronic disease management programs in rural China. Results: From 2008 to 2011 health records were created for 291,087 (26.25%) from 1,108,951 total Xilingol residents with 10,240 cases of hypertension and 1152 cases of diabetes diagnosed and registered. Furthermore, 2945 hypertensive and 305 diabetic patients enrolled in follow-up. Implementing the EHR system revealed a high rate of cholecystectomies leading to investigations and findings of drinking water contaminated with metals. Measures were taken to inform the population and clean drinking water was supplied. Conclusions: The cloud-based EHR approach improved the care provision for ViDs in rural China and increased the efficiency of the healthcare system to monitor the health status of the population and to manage preventive care efforts. It also helped discover contaminated water in one of the project areas revealing further benefits if the system is expanded and improved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)585-592
Number of pages8
JournalComputer Methods and Programs in Biomedicine
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2014


  • Cloud computing
  • Electronic health record
  • Health information technology
  • Rural healthcare
  • Village doctor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Health Informatics


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