Medical Record Database


I am new to this forum and new to DB design; i'm a surgeon by profession, live a developing country so have few commercial options but desperately want to have a database which would help me and patients to have a better record of activities. I am avidly reading books about database design especially in MS Access and can improve upon if provided support.
Following is the database design that i'm looking at:
I want a database to store my patients basic demographic info, record their visits which could end in either an admission to the hospital for treatment, or called for further follow-up after performance of certain investigations which could be blood labs or radiology or both or patients may discharged for no further follow-up. On each visit either their clinical features are recorded or their investigations are recorded (which were previously advised). Also needed is their planned surgery date or past surgery details entry.

Best Answer

Unfortunately your kind of question is a little broad / general for what is usually applicable to this forum, but hopefully given the circumstances (and holiday :), it is scrutinized a little less. (A candidate question for this forum is usually very objective, specific, and about a particular issue with sufficient details on what was tried so far.)

So it sounds like you just need a way to do basic record keeping, which is a simple use case for most database systems (really almost any tool can accomplish this). But there are a couple minor recommendations I'll make as follows:

  1. MS Access was originally designed to be a basic functioning database system but it is very dated, and doesn't have much of a community around it. So while you can probably get started quickly with it, in the long run you might be better off with an alternative solution because as you encounter issues or get stuck, it'll be more difficult to find answers and help.

  2. Given your circumstances, I assume you aren't looking to spend a lot of money on a database system, so enterprise systems like Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle PL/SQL are probably not something you want to look into either (although they provide a lot of great functionality, you probably won't need 75% of those features).

  3. Caveat to #2, Microsoft does offer a free version of their database system with a few limitations. Download Link. The main limitation that would likely apply to your case is the total size of the database can't exceed 10 GB. Depending on how many patients you typically see, 10 GB might be plenty of space for a small database, or it may not be.

  4. Given #1, #2 and #3, my recommendation would be to use either PostgreSQL or MySQL. Both are highly used, highly capable, and free database management systems that don't impose the same limitations as #3. The benefit of sticking to something highly used is that there's strong communities around them who can help you as you get stuck on a particular issue while trying to setup the database and run queries against it. There might be slightly more work upfront getting either setup as opposed to MS Access, but in the long run the support behind those database systems will be a lot more beneficial to you.