$1.5b plan to computerise medical notes

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 November, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 17 November, 1997, 12:00am

All public doctors will have to input their clinical notes to computers in four years when the Hospital Authority's health information superhighway is fully operational.

Under the $1.5 billion plan, doctors in accident and emergency wards, as well as speciality clinics, will be able to retrieve patients' medical histories and clinical notes in seconds.

The Queen Mary, Queen Elizabeth and Prince of Wales hospitals will see the full computerisation of patients' clinical records, medication, laboratory reports and X-ray reports next summer, according to the authority's deputy director, John Tse See-yin.

The three account for a quarter of the authority's discharged patients.

'We want to standardise all medical information and force the doctor to write everything clearly. Some doctors are quite sloppy in writing the information,' he said. The system would also ease the use of patients' records.

'The records need not be placed at a designated area. Anyone with authorisation can read the data at any time,' he said, adding that a lot of time was wasted in passing records between departments and hospitals.

The authority's chief executive Dr Yeoh Eng-kiong said last month online prescriptions for drugs were being used to curb the spate of blunders in public hospitals. Intelligible prescriptions are expected to grace all public hospitals within two years.

Over the past two years there were 23,000 incidents in which patients received the wrong drugs. In 95 per cent of cases, the mistakes were detected before the medicine was taken, the authority claims.

Mr Tse said when the superhighway was fully established in 2002, patients would be able to see doctors at home through the tele-consultation system.

The authority has spent $716 million with the total bill for the programme expected to reach $1.5 billion. But Mr Tse said it would be hard to get operational funds once the system was set up.

'The Government is responsible only for 13 per cent of the maintenance costs, compared with 20 to 30 per cent in its own internal computerisation programme.

''Each hospital needs to squeeze out money for maintenance and routine operations.'