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New BHB records system to cost nearly $55m over ten years

King Edward Memorial Hospital (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

A new medical records system for the island’s hospitals will cost almost $55 million over ten years, it was revealed.

The Bermuda Hospitals Board said the cost of the new electronic medical records system, an EMR, expected to be up and running by September, was almost on a par with the present outdated records system.

Two contracts with US-based healthcare giant Cerner are for $25.8 million and $26.1 million.

A third contract will involve a one-off payment of $5.53 million to S&P Consultants to bring the system online.

Michael Richmond, the BHB chief executive, said EMR systems had become “the expected standard” in hospitals worldwide.

He added the system would put all patient information in one place and allow central scheduling for multiple tests and appointments across different departments.

The expenditure was announced after the hospital revealed last year that its finances available for general costs had run critically low.

But Dr Richmond defended the move because it would deliver a “significant” cut in hospital expenses.

He added that there was also “a time pressure as our old system has to be replaced”.

Dr Richmond said: “It started in 2018 to select a vendor through a competitive procurement, get the required approvals from the board and Government, then implement the system.

“The key benefits are to improve the safety and quality of clinical care, but also to improve efficiencies that will achieve significant savings to the cost of running BHB.”

He said the board had approved the acquisition of a new system in November 2019.

The patient electronic and administrative records log system was announced last month.

The contracts will cover routine upgrades, maintenance and hosting of data, as well as its implementation.

Dr Richmond said: “However, it should be noted that the Cerner EMR is replacing not just the old clinical system, but a number of other systems at BHB as this allows us to fully integrate the EMR to benefit patients and care, and create savings.

“Currently we spend nearly $2 million per year on multiple, separate systems that will no longer be needed once the EMR goes live.

“The cost of the EMR once it is up and running is actually comparable to the costs of running the separate systems, but the difference in the benefits is huge.”

Dr Richmond highlighted improvements from better bed management to eliminating paper communications such as faxes, and cutting out duplicate testing.

He said the contracts with Cerner, to run from 2020 to 2030, would be renewed after the expiry date “just as we would renew any system contracts”.

Dr Richmond said S&P Consultants, based in Massachusetts, had been hired to keep the electronic switch “seamless” and inside the budget.

The firm, which provides expertise on Cerner systems, was said to be “expert” in the set-up of EMRs.

The system was designed to centralise patient information electronically and eliminate duplication and potential errors. It is also equipped with built-in safety alerts.

Coding can be carried out by doctors, which would eliminate outsourcing.

Dr Richmond said: “The main clinical system we use houses patient information and data. It holds static data.

“It doesn’t bring together all the information about a patient and can’t be used for ordering, referrals, communicating between clinicians, or sharing patient information with different clinical teams.

“In today’s hospitals, there is no replacement for this system as technology has evolved so much and hospitals have moved to EMR systems.”

Dr Richmond added: “This is not cutting edge technology that we are implementing, but the accepted international standard that hospitals either already have in place or, like us, are working towards.”

The contracts were announced online in the Official Gazette because they exceeded $50,000.

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Published January 06, 2022 at 7:58 am (Updated January 06, 2022 at 4:39 pm)

New BHB records system to cost nearly $55m over ten years

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