Fri | May 14, 2021

US duo prepare pitch for local digitisation of medical records

Published:Saturday | January 2, 2021 | 12:12 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer

A pair of medical experts are planning a “deep dive” into Jamaica’s clogged health sector with an ambitious plan to completely overhaul the outdated paper-based medical record infrastructure with a world-class digital system.

United States-based healthcare consultant Tsahia Hobson and Dr Camille White, an expert in implementing electronic health records as well as big data population health platforms, are hoping to interest Health & Wellness Minister Dr Christopher Tufton in the laying out of their proposal of intent.

While they have not yet made a pitch, Hobson said that she intends to get in touch with the minister in the first quarter of this year.

“We are still in the very early stages; we have not yet reached out to the Ministry of Health, but I think it is a very clear next step. We would love to ... discuss not just the services that we offer but how to go about getting it established,” said Hobson, who has Jamaican heritage through her parents.

There have been calls over the years for a more modern format of storing and accessing health records.

Noted physician Dr Delroy Fray said in 2019 that a transition to a digital database platform would make the delivery of healthcare service “faster than the Concorde” – the supersonic passenger airplane known for its fantastic speed.

He contended that a digital system would suddenly revolutionise the medical record infrastructure.

Hobson, seeing the need, then drafted White to work alongside her on the project and both say they are delighted by the prospects.

“I am excited about this because I see a lot of opportunities in healthcare in Jamaica, whether it’s in digital health start-ups or with a new electronic medical records transformation and implementation,” Hobson said.

White, who has a background in traditional medicine, says they have a strong interest in supporting the Jamaican health infrastructure.

White also worked with the Veterans Health Administration, the largest healthcare organisation in the United States that is experienced in large-scale information technology implementations such as the electronic health records for 732 locations and 1,400 clinics across the US.

She said that there are standards that they could discuss with the health ministry with a view of moving the country forward.

They duo admit, however, that the first steps towards building out the electronic platform would include understanding the needs of the health sector.

“Taking our shared experience plus connections with the digital health industry and also to build on entrepreneurs in the country, that’s something that I think both of us would like to do,” she said.

The pair will be seeking to learn quickly about the Jamaican population, and its culture in order to gauge the kind of programmes needed should the offer be taken up by the Government.

This will include establishing a communications strategy, a governing structure, streamlining of the products, and to establish value metrics for those using the system.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com