New Singapore hospital to deploy “mini-EHR”

This news article is written by a good friend of mine (from FutureGov) and it covers a very interesting concept – a combination of a private hospital and a hotel- catering for medical tourism.

The Connexion, conceived and built by Singapore Health Partners (SHP), is comprised of three main entities: a 220-bed tertiary hospital, a specialist consultation centre with 189 medical suites as well as a 230-room hotel, which is equipped with a conference centre and retail space.

James Woo, SHP’s Vice President for Information Technology explained that the hotel will have rooms ranging from four-star to six-star standards. “This is to make sure that the facility caters to the different needs of our clients,” he says.

Woo was formerly the deputy CIO of Ministry of Health Holdings (MOHH) and CIO of National Health Group.

Expected to open by 2011, Connexion is expected to have 40 to 60 per cent medical tourists among its clientele. SHP, which was formed in 2006, has 44 shareholders, including 40 doctors, one architect and several foreign investors.

“It is the first private hospital to be built in Singapore for many years,” Woo says, stressing a lot of planning is required to make Connexion different and competitive. “We went in with a patient’s perspective to envision what a hospital of the future should be like.”

He explains that in a normal private hospital in Singapore, specialist consultants are like tenants who run their own systems, with little or no sharing of medical or administrative information between each other or with the management of the facility. These specialists often use one system for consultation and another to talk to the hospital, and the two are not interconnected, according to Woo.

“If I go to see doctor A, I have to register myself,” he explains. “When I go to see doctor B the next time, I have to register again even though they are in the same facility.”

SHP has recently signed a five year agreement with Microsoft to deploy the latter’s Amalga Health Information System into both its hospital and consultation suites.

Drawing from his previous public sector experience, Woo explains that he is envisioning Connexion to be like a mini-EHR. Each consultation suite will be allocated certain space in the central data base for detailed medical information, while certain important information such as allergies, active medication will be shared across Connexion, with a single master patient index.

“Integration of two systems will never work as well as an integrated system,” says Woo. “And we don’t want to maintain a large IT department to weave everything together.”

The option of having a single billing system between Connexion’s medical facilities and its hospitality business is also on the drawing board. “We still have to be very mindful,” says Woo.

The adoption of the system is not mandatory for specialist consultants. However, Woo says SHP will try their best to incentivise the uptake. “The system is essentially free for them, they don’t have to worry about license or maintenance,” he explains. “And by adopting the system, not only do they benefit from data sharing, they can also receive our statistical reports to see how well they perform and how they can make improvements.”

“We just want them to focus on patient care rather than worry about administration or anything else,” says Woo. “Our strategy is to help them to turn around more patients with better quality, and by that we will have happy tenants and increased revenue.”

As a green field facility, SHP plans to use internationally available statistics such as reports published by the WHO as a benchmark for the medical results achieved with the help of its IT system.

“WHO says that the chance of you getting harmed while seeking treatment is one in 300, which is very high considering that the ratio for civil aviation is one in 1.1 million,” Woo says. “We need to demonstrate that we can do much better than this.?”

Source : FutureGov

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