S'pore casts e-medical sharing net wider

Community hospitals in the country join public hospitals and government medical agencies, to gain access to a common system for patient records.
Written by Vivian Yeo, Contributor

Singapore's healthcare network reached a new milestone this month, as the government extends electronic access to medical records, to community hospitals in the island-state.

In an interview with ZDNet Asia, Singapore's Ministry of Health said the extension of the Electronic Medical Record Exchange (EMRX) system to the community hospitals was completed on schedule. Doctors from community hospitals in the island-state can now access e-records of patients that have been referred from public hospitals, the spokesperson said in an e-mail.

The idea of a common system to share among the various healthcare groups was first announced in March 2007 by Singapore's Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan. The EMRX was designed to facilitate the exchange of standardized health data securely, across the continuum of care to support the needs of healthcare providers, planners, researchers and patients.

According to the MOH, over 100,000 clinical documents are shared through EMRX every month.

The Ministry added that it is working to link up other healthcare providers "to support care integration especially during transition of care across different healthcare settings". This includes, for example, the enterprise resource planning (ERP) system for 11 non-profit healthcare organizations announced last year.

The MOH has also been working with the Infocomm Development Authority to help general practitioners e-enable their work via an integrated clinic management system (CMS). The CMS, announced in August 2006, is a four-year plan for GPs to access and update patient records as well as manage billing and other related functions.

Currently, some 360 GP clinics have adopted the CMS, reported the MOH. An IDA spokesperson added that the ministries are targeting to implement the CMS in 1,000 clinics by the end of 2011.

The MOH noted that there will be continuous improvement to the EMRX system going forward.

"Resources are being committed to look into adding new functionalities and capabilities to EMRX through leveraging on new and emerging technology," said an MOH spokesperson. "For instance, based on what we have learnt through the document-level based exchange platform of EMRX, we are now looking into having a basket of harmonized clinical data standards which can facilitate future developments in achieving interoperable health records across Singapore."

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