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When I learned I was headed to Soroti, Uganda, to work in one of that country’s medical clinics, our long-term goal was ambitious: create an electronic medical record (EMR) system for its diabetes patients.

We are featuring a series of posts detailing their challenges and progress. While we knew that we would not be able to implement an EMR system fully by the end of the summer, the early steps in the process took longer than any of us expected.Another hurdle the clinic struggled with arose because of the lack of literacy.The language is more commonly spoken than written, and it can be confusing to try to determine if two patients with similar-sounding names are in fact the same.But that act allowed us to bring in a new file cabinet and take care of files that seriously needed sorting.The impact of our actions improved the clinic’s ability to monitor patients, evaluate their overall health and implement further interventions. This project reminded us that if we address only our own priorities, the changes we make may not address the biggest problems faced by the staff.

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