By NICO SCAVELLA
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE official launch of a new, multi-million dollar integrated health information system is expected to take place in the Summer of next year, Health Minister Dr Duane Sands confirmed on Friday.
Dr Sands told The Tribune that the $18m system by Allscripts Healthcare Solutions Inc is expected to launch roughly a year from now, which he said is a "very ambitious" deadline given all the necessary "training" needed to operate the new system.
Meanwhile, officials from Ports International, distributor for Philips Healthcare, confirmed that it is on schedule to deliver the state-of-the-art imaging equipment procured by the former Christie administration in February 2016.
However, those officials said while some of the equipment has been shipped, others haven't due to ongoing construction in certain areas of the relevant public health facilities.
In August 2016, Allscripts Healthcare Solutions Inc, along with their strategic partner Infor Lawson, signed a contract worth $18,389,368 with the Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) for the implementation of what officials said would be a "one patient, one record system".
The new system would allow for universal access of patient records by the clinics and services of the Department of Public Health and the public hospital institutions and facilities of the PHA.
At the time, government officials said the new system would replace the Keane Insight platform currently operated by the PHA and the IPHIS system currently operated by the Department of Public Health.
When contacted for an update on the process on Friday, Dr Sands said: "This is more than just going from analog to digital, this is a complete change in the way we manage patient data and information. And so you have to have clerical staff trained, you have to have the clinical staff trained and so on in order to avoid a complete disaster.
"And it's going to take some time to get that training and preparation done to migrate the systems, and there'll be a period of time where you'll have to operate both systems in parallel. Then you got to check and double-check and triple-check and then you have to pilot it and test it and so on and so forth to make sure that it actually works the way it's going to.
"So the go-live is scheduled for summer of 2018, which may seem like a long time from now but that is actually a very ambitious timeline. Believe me, having been an integral part of the implementation of the Meditech system at the Doctor's Hospital, and that was now almost 10 years ago…for a 72 bed hospital, that was a very involved process.
"The Princess Margaret Hospital has about 400 beds, the Rand Memorial Hospital a number of beds, Sandilands a number of beds, and then the peripheral clinics. So you're talking about a scope of work which is significantly bigger than Doctor's Hospital."
Regarding a separate issue, Ports International officials told The Tribune that some of the state-of-the-art radiology equipment previously procured by the former Christie administration has been shipped, and that they are on target in honoring their obligations.
The statements by those officials were in reference to the February 2016 signing of a $7.576 million agreement with Med-X International and Ports International, both distributors for Philips Healthcare, for radiology equipment.
The equipment reportedly includes four digital radiography systems, two radiography/fluoroscopy systems, three mobile x-ray units, one 16 Slice CT scanner, two 64 Slice CT scanners, two MRI scanners and six ultrasound scanners.
The equipment is expected to be installed at PMH and the Rand Memorial Hospital. However, at the time of the signing officials could not say when the equipment will be delivered and installed.
On Friday however, Ports International officials said the mobile x-rays and the ultrasound scanners have been delivered, and that officials are working on the delivery of the fluoroscopes and CT scanners with an aim to having them in the country before the end of the year.
The MRI scanners will be shipped pending the progress of the construction efforts, officials said.
When probed on the matter on Friday, Dr Sands said it would be "impossible" for him to concretely say when all of the equipment would be delivered "because we cannot start that project until some of these other projects" in the relevant public healthcare facilities "are significantly further along or completed."
"…Quite frankly at this point we're significantly behind in a lot of the renovations within the body of Princess Margaret Hospital and the Rand so that timeline is not going to be the same timeline that would have been anticipated when those commitments were made," he said. "Bear in mind we already have three separate units in the hospital which are out of commission because of ongoing construction.
He added: "...The analogy of the disruption that was experienced in part during the New Providence infrastructure improvement programme, with multiple different areas taken out of commission, I don't think we'd want to repeat.
"So we already have three wards out of commission, we are going to need to get some of that sorted out before we now go ahead and disrupt imaging. So I guess the long and short is that I cant give you a definite time as to when we're going to move ahead with that."