polyclinics paperless medical records

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polyclinics paperless medical records

Post  fairyjade on 8/10/2009, 18:49

SINGAPORE: The nine polyclinics under the National Healthcare Group are going digital, with Bukit Batok Polyclinic being the first to introduce paperless medical records.

Patients' medical records can now be read off a computer screen, while diagnoses are typed into the system. The move is part of the Health Ministry's plan to better integrate services between hospitals, polyclinics and family physicians.

Previously, patients would leave the doctor's room armed with all sorts of paper, such as case notes, prescriptions and laboratory test forms, which they would have to deliver to the appropriate people.

Sometimes, these notes get lost along the way. At other times, bad handwriting leads to situations whereby the wrong drugs are given to the patient. By going digital, polyclinics will not only resolve these problems, but also cut down on waiting times.

This is a significant benefit, given that Bukit Batok Polyclinic sees between 800 and 1,000 patients a day.

Dr Keith Tsou, head of Bukit Batok Polyclinic, said: "In the past, when a patient came to see us, we'll register the patient and someone would have to go to the records office, retrieve the physical paper records and bring it up to either the doctor's or nurse's room. This process can take up to 20 minutes or half an hour.

"Now, the minute the patient is registered, the records are transferred electronically to the doctor's consultation room, so sometimes the doctor can be ready to see the patient even before the patient walks up to the room."

By 2011, the digital system will be rolled out at all 18 polyclinics run by the National Healthcare Group and SingHealth. They will eventually be linked to existing systems in public hospitals and other healthcare institutions.

Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan said: "As chronic care requires many healthcare professionals to work in teams, the sharing of medical records is critical.

"Technology has now enabled us to do this, though rolling it out nationwide will take a few more years. This will transform the way we deliver care to patients, achieving better care coordination and disease management."

Polyclinics within the National Healthcare Group also have specialist centres focusing on patients with hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol. The idea is to help patients manage their conditions better through education and counselling.

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