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SCS eyes pharmacy industry

update Singapore Computer Systems wants to carve a niche for itself as a specialized pharmaceutical IT services provider, reveals its chief honcho.
Written by Lynn Tan @ Redhat, Contributor on
updateSINGAPORE--Local IT services provider Singapore Computer Systems (SCS) wants to expand its footprint in the healthcare sector, specifically, through the area of pharmacy.

"We want to be a more specialized IT healthcare provider," Tan Tong Hai, SCS's president and CEO, told reporters at a media briefing Monday to announce the company's latest fiscal-quarter results. "If you look at the healthcare industry, [for example], the specialists are the ones who make the most money, not the [general practitioners]."

"In the same manner, we decided that we should be specialized, and we have chosen pharmacy as our main area of specialization," Tan said.

He added that SCS has had experience providing pharmaceutical IT services, having implemented its integrated Pharmacy System (iPharm) for Singapore's National Healthcare Group (NHG). This initiative began in April 2002, when iPharm was first deployed to support outpatient services across NHG's nine polyclinics.

In May this year, SCS completed the final module of NHG's iPharm implementation at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH), which is also managed by the healthcare group.

According to Tan, the iPharm application allows doctors to electronically prescribe medicine and pharmacists to check that they have correctly dispensed the medicine.

In addition, the pharmaceutical system can also communicate with a central database to detect instances of incorrect drug prescriptions. For example, Tan explained, if patients were prescribed drugs that they are allergic to, the pharmaceutical system would be able to "electronically flag [them] out".

He noted that the pharmaceutical system "will eventually interface with [Singapore's] central electronic medical record (EMR) [system]", which has to include drug prescriptions made out to patients.

SCS plans to further enhance the iPharm offering in other aspects such as inventory and supply chain management, to enable the tool to be deployed beyond government hospitals and in private pharmacies, Tan said. "If you're running out of [a particular] medicine, the inventory system will automatically replenish it," he said.

"So far, what we've done is to automate the workflow between the doctors and the pharmacies, and [while] this is one of the key strengths of iPharm, we are certainly looking at other enhancements that we can add on," Tan said.

"Singapore is a hub for a lot of the pharmaceutical companies...and eventually, our plan is to help manage the integrated pharmacy network for all the hospitals and pharmacies in Singapore," he said.

According to Tan, SCS is currently involved in another healthcare project maintaining the EMR--dubbed PACES (Patient Care Enhancement System )--for Singapore's Ministry of Defense (MINDEF), which contains medical records of all soldiers in the country's Singapore Armed Forces. SCS built, and currently manages, PACES.

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