Health Minister Dr Duane Sands.
By Leandra Rolle
THE Ministry of Health is currently in talks with Pan American Health Organisation to strengthen data management in primary healthcare clinics throughout The Bahamas, according to Health Minister Dr Duane Sands.
“The private sector has made great advances with the adoption of electronic medical records and while the public sector has attempted to get on board, our efforts have been not so successful,” he said at a medical coding symposium on Friday.
“But I can assure you we are soon to join in the electronic transformation….This project (with PAHO) aims to transition hospital and national health records into electronic formats. Outputs (are) expected to improve the ministry's efficiency, the integration of data across recording platforms and better quality of records.”
His comments came a day after Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) Managing Director Mrs Catherine Weech told reporters that the Rand Memorial Hospital lost a number of medical records due to flooding caused by Hurricane Dorian.
“While we’ve made all efforts to try to salvage some of them, some of it was just not possible. Fortunately for us, a number of our records are stored offsite. We’ve been in a relationship with a company called RAM (Remote Area Medical) where we store all of our inactive records, death records, active records as it relates to ER," she said during a press conference at the Ministry of Health.
“But, with those that have been destroyed – unfortunately that’s just the unfortunate reality of the disaster of the hurricane that we just experienced.”
Mrs Weech added that the PHA is in discussions to implement an electronic-based system for medical records.
“We‘ve not yet decided on an actual programme that we will be using, but we realize the importance of having a digitized system for medical records management,” she continued.
And, in order to achieve these data management goals, Dr Sands said the healthcare system will need more healthcare professionals.
“These workers will need to be equipped with competencies and skill sets to strengthen management health data and monitor and evaluate health care being provided,” he said.
"The health system in the Bahamas has been paper-based for decades, and in the 21st century, we need to be further along... (Therefore), the mission of the Ministry of Health is to implement a cost-effective health information and management system inclusive of electronic data and to ensure timely access to coding and information, rivaling that which is in place at the private sector."