The Ministry of Health yesterday launched a national health information system which will over time replace the paper-based system for patient information in the public health care service.

Minister of Health, John Boyce, speaking at a ceremony to launch the initiative at the Ministry of Health, said that the system would link primary and tertiary care through ???the seamless movement of information in a secure interface that allowed for faster decision-making and improved record keeping???.

He disclosed that the new system, called MedData, was already functional at the Winston Scott Polyclinic, and was currently being rolled out at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and the Edgar Cochrane Polyclinic.

It is expected that all polyclinics, the Geriatric Hospital, all district hospitals and the Psychiatric Hospital will be online and functional by the end of March, 2016.

The MedData system, Mr. Boyce explained, will give doctors, nurses and other authorised medical personnel in the public health system easy access to the medical data of patients.

???For example, in an instant, an individual???s medical history, latest blood test and investigations like X-rays and ultrasounds, can be seen by attending physicians and assessed, thereby reducing duplication of effort and creating a more efficient and timely system.???

He said that system would also allow managers in the health care system to access information on how services were being utilised, and to make decisions based on real-time data. ???This system has the potential to reduce inefficiencies, including doctor shopping, out-of stock drugs and medical supplies and lengthy waiting times for patient care,??? he added.

The Health Minister said that eventually, it was envisioned that private sector doctors would interface with the system. He noted, however, that the appropriate legal framework which supported access to information, sharing of data and data security was required, and this process had already begun.

In addition, the training needs of health care workers who will interact with the system were also being assessed.??Mr. Boyce expressed Government???s gratitude to the World Bank for providing the funds for the procurement and implementation of the system.

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