Princess Margaret Hospital. Photo: Shawn Hanna/Tribune staff
By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
The US company selected to deliver the “crashed” $18m Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) contract yesterday appeared confused about its client’s identity as it defended its performance.
Allscripts, the Nasdaq-listed provider of healthcare software and information technology solutions, referred to the “Public Housing Authority” - not the Public Hospitals Authority - in asserting that it had “fully complied at all times” with the contract’s provisions.
It also pledged that it “stands ready to complete the implementation” once it receives the word from the government and PHA, even though Dr Duane Sands, minister of health, this week indicated they were “moving forward” in a different direction to obtain an Integrated Healthcare Management System (iHMS) for the public health system.”
An Allscripts spokesperson, responding to Tribune Business inquiries over the contract controversy, merely said: “Allscripts has at all times complied fully with the terms of the contract we executed with the Bahamian Ministry of Health and the Public Housing (Hospitals) Authority.
“Allscripts stands ready to complete the implementation of our best-in-class solutions, which are used by many of the leading health systems across the world and will enable caregivers to improve outcomes across The Bahamas.”
Some observers may argue that the reference to a “Public Housing Authority” perfectly sums up the controversy surrounding a contract that was intended to totally transform healthcare delivery in The Bahamas through the use of electronic records that followed patients wherever they went to access services.
This would have given providers instant access to a person’s health history, enabling them to better and more quickly diagnose any cause of distress, and thus provide an improved quality of care and treatment options for Bahamians.
The system was also designed to improve patient billing and cut revenue leakages, thereby helping the Princess Margaret Hospital to reduce the $88m gap between its income and annual operating expenses.
Dr Sands, though, told Tribune Business earlier this week that Bahamian taxpayers had spent $7-$8m on a venture that had to-date delivered zero value for patients, with not a single line of coding to be found anywhere on the PHA’s computers.
“Suffice it to say that the roll-out of this project more than stalled; it’s crashed,” Dr Sands conceded to Tribune Business, “and the PHA has been attempting to find a way to manage its affairs because this was an essential component of modernisation.
“This would have brought the health system into the 21st century and allow us to function in a data-driven manner. It would also go a very long way to structure proper billing, revenue enhancement and clinical care. Having a patient’s records, a lot of the challenges - the current hassles, the delays with care now - could be avoided.”
He continued: “As a matter of fact, it is likely going to be a matter that comes to legal action. Let’s just say that many years later, and many millions of dollars later, we have no functioning integrated healthcare management system.
“There was tremendous anticipation about the benefits that this process, this agreement would bring to the health system. Despite the millions of dollars invested we are still using a pretty much manual health records system, and there is very little tie-in with laboratory or imaging or pharmacy or any of the business billing information with any particular patient’s record, and so it’s been a bust.”