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Sectoral Debate: Health records to put in electronic format

Published:Thursday | May 7, 2015 | 5:00 AM

A system to digitise health records and have them accessible on an electronic platform is being piloted in Jamaica's health sector.

Portfolio minister Dr Fenton Ferguson announced during the Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives that the Government has begun implementing the National Health Information System and E-Health Strategy.

"The pilot project to put in place the Electronic Patient Administration System (ePAS) is being implemented in two facilities - Santa Cruz and Darliston centres of excellence, with health-records staff as the initial users since October 2014 and more than 13,000 individual patient records created. The ICT infrastructure to support the ePAS at both facilities is also in place," Ferguson said.

The minister said the electronic system represents the foundation of a national Electronic Health Record system.

"This year, we will receive $30 million from the National Health Fund to complete implementation at Santa Cruz Centre of Excellence, Black River Hospital and St Elizabeth Health Department. Moreover, the National Health Information Network's Wide Area Network Design is complete, through consultation with eGov Jamaica Limited, and the Universal Service Fund-commissioned connectivity points at 59 of 60 sites at a cost of $26 million," Ferguson said.

Explaining how the system will work, Ferguson said that each patient will have a single electronic health record with a unique universal person identifier.

"So, if you walk into Santa Cruz for care, your data will be electronically captured, and if you then go to Darliston, all of your information would be readily available," Ferguson said.

He told legislators that the plan is to ultimately link all health facilities "so that we can have continuity of care and easily accessible patient records for more efficient and effective service".

Ferguson, in 2012, ordered a task force to come up with recommendations on how to best manage patient records, following a Gleaner investigation that revealed that lax security measures at two of Jamaica's leading hospitals - the Kingston Public Hospital (KPH) and the University Hospital of the West Indies (UHWI) - left the confidential medical history of patients open to public access.