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Go digital to protect patients - Local firm pitches system which could increase the security of medical records

Published:Sunday | April 22, 2012 | 12:00 AM

Tyrone Reid, Senior Staff Reporter

A company that offers emergency air-ambulance service to Jamaicans looking to go overseas for medical treatment believes it has the solution to the security breakdown involving medical records in some hospitals across the island.

Duane Boise, president and CEO of EMedical Global Jamaica Limited (EMED), an air-ambulance-service provider, believes the electronic health-record system being offered by his company enables medical officials to easily compile patient-related data in a repository that is fully secure.

The Internet-based solution is called Emedlifedox, and according to Boise, it includes technology that provides the physician with diagnostics and treatment inserts, instant dictation, e-prescribing, and online billing.

Last week, the system was rolled out at the Winchester Medical and Surgical Institute in St Andrew.

Boise told The Sunday Gleaner that the Emedlifedox removes the need to push paper around because the data is stored in cloud technology, giving patients and physicians immediate access, which is critical in cases of emergency.

He said when a referral is made, a patient's medical history can be sent to the specialist almost instantly if the physician is also on the system.

Providing solution

"I don't want to be appearing to knock the (present) system ... . What we are looking to do is to provide a solution ... . What we have done is to unleash this technology with this system to instantly collect meaningful data and to be able to transfer instantly and have physicians collaborate around that data," said Boise.

The EMed president said the electronic health-record system also "allows patients to have control over their own medical records so that they can travel anywhere they wish to have another doctor see the accurate information".

For those concerned about their medical information being accessed by hackers, Boise said the security measures used to protect the information on system are built like Fort Knox.

"We are using the highest levels of security. We actually have our military encryption key ... and it addresses some of the issues you had in The Sunday Gleaner article," he said.

Privacy compromised

Boise was referring to the probe which revealed that two of the country's leading hospitals - the Kingston Public Hospital and the University Hospital of the West Indies - were not securing patients' health records as mandated by law.

He said under the electronic system being introduced by his company, a patient's information will be filed using a name, photo identification, tax registration number and a unique identifier code.

Dr Neville Graham, medical director of EMED and chairman of the Winchester Surgical and Medical Institute, said the electronic health-record system can house the medical information for all patients in Jamaica.

"We have a system that can incorporate the whole medical health-care system in Jamaica - from public to private hospitals, to medical centres and individual doctors." said Graham.

He added: "You cannot lose that info ... . The security is military-styled. Not only that, it is extremely user-friendly and it increases accuracy and easy diagnosis."

Graham said the plan is to make a pitch to the Government, especially after seeing the results of The Sunday Gleaner investigation last week.