PM Christie: IHIMS Represents A New Day in Bahamian Healthcare

Giving the keynote address at an historic event in healthcare, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance the Rt. Hon. Perry Christie launched the Public Hospital Authority’s new Integrated Health Information Management System (IHIMS) Program, which, when fully implemented will link all public health services and facilities in The Bahamas via a universal digital platform.

The launch of the IHIMS took place on January 17, 2017 at St. Joseph’s Church Hall, Boyd Road.  The new ‘one patient, one record’ system that will be linked from Grand Bahama in the north to Mayaguana in the south, propels the public health system into the 21st century.

Prime Minister Christie stated that one of the central priorities of his government has been the enhancement and modernization of The Bahamas’ national public health platform, and that the effort to modernize the public health platform “has demanded the channeling of significant investments into a strategic approach of healthcare reform, and reform through which we intend to maximize access to care and enhance quality of care for all Bahamians.”

Prime Minister Christie remarked that key elements of the nation’s healthcare reform strategy include a continuing program of Health Systems Strengthening initiatives.

“These initiatives have already made a difference with respect to infrastructural upgrades at our hospitals and other key health facilities,” he added.  “We have seen the extension of service hours for out-patient, family medicine and community clinics, as well as recruitment efforts to allay systemic shortfalls in clinical and technical staff.”

Prime Minister Christie noted that while much has been accomplished over the past 12 to 18 months, there still remains a great deal of work to do in 2017.

“In a matter of weeks we look forward to vital services, with increased specialists, and the procurement of new equipment and relocation to expanded facilities at a new site on Soldier Road, in the former Eye World complex,” Prime Minister Christie said.  “These major projects undertaken by the Public Hospitals Authority continue with the full support of my Government.”

He added that all of those efforts to improve our public health platform dovetail with the centerpiece of healthcare reform, the implementation of Universal Healthcare through the historic National Health Insurance program.

“Today, I am very pleased to acknowledge that we are once again setting an historic benchmark in our progress toward better healthcare for all Bahamians,” Prime Minister Christie stated.

He related that near the end of Summer 2016, the PHA executed an agreement with vendors based in the United States for a package of software and services that, once in place, would “catapult our public health system into the 21st Century”.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we often hear the phrase information is power.  Maximizing how we acquire, process, transmit and apply information can enhance every field of human endeavour. This is certainly true in our modern healthcare environment where timely, accurate and accessible patient information and medical records can have a major impact on patient satisfaction and health outcomes,” Prime Minister Christie said.

He added that, for a number of years, The Bahamas’ public hospitals and clinics had investigated a myriad of options with respect to the adoption of a top tier Health Information System that would link all public health facilities from Grand Bahama in the north, to Mayaguana, so as to positively impact service delivery, inventory management, and productivity across our public health sector.

“This ceremony and the sessions that will continue through the coming days, represent the culmination of those efforts as we officially recognize the Kickoff of our integrated Health Information Management System Program,” Prime Minister Christie said.  “In the sessions that will follow, stakeholders will begin the challenging work of discussing high level scope and timelines, methodologies, refining objectives and expectations and outlining the way forward by engaging clinical, pharmacy, registration and radiology and other services as we move toward implementation of the IHIMS platform.

“Indeed, I am sure that many of our senior clinicians and allied health professionals are looking forward to the product demonstrations of key elements of IHIMS for our major clinical services and essential hospital functions.”

Prime Minister Christie admonished that he did not want there to be any doubt that he considered the work that participants would do that day, and in the days ahead, another important milestone in “our progress toward a truly historic achievement with respect to Bahamian healthcare.”

He noted that once the program is fully implemented, all public health services and facilities will be irreversibly linked via a universal digital platform.

“The integrated Health Information System will be accessed by the clinics and services of the Department of Public Health and the institutions and facilities of the Public Hospitals Authority across the Commonwealth of The Bahamas,” Prime Minister Christie said.  “This, ladies and gentlemen is a great day for healthcare and great day for the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.”

One important feature of this system, he noted, is that it will allow for the entire public healthcare system to operate, as was mentioned earlier in the official ceremony that day, a “one patient, one record system” that uniquely identifies each patient and allows for seamless access to a patient’s medical record from any public healthcare facility or service.

“So in the future, it will not matter where you go in the public healthcare system for care, your medical record will follow you,” Prime Minister Christie said.

“So today, we are in the process of waving goodbye to the duplication and inefficiencies associated with maintaining different records for the same patient simply because he or she may be seen at different public health clinics or public hospitals within our archipelago,” Prime Minister Christie said. “This program represents a significant investment by my Government, encompassing a 10-year contractual period at a cost of $18,389,368.”

“The implementation of the IHIMS program reflects my government’s commitment to our national health systems strengthening initiatives and the launch of national health insurance.  The involvement of NHI Consultants and others in the planning and procurement stages of this effort, speaks to the Public Hospitals Authority and my Ministry looking ahead to the launch of the first phase of the National Health Insurance Program,” he added.  “I am pleased to say that by every measure, the features of the IHIMS platform are adequate to meet the needs of NHI.”

In this regard, Prime Minister Christie said he was very pleased to officially welcome the representatives from the international partners AllScripts and Infor Lawson.

“It is wonderful to have you here as we take a remarkable stride forward in transforming our public healthcare system for the Bahamian people.”

Prime Minister Christie quoted who he termed one of the world’s greatest minds, scientist Albert Einstein, who once said, “The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking”.

“The adoption of the Integrated Health Information Management System program, which we Kickoff today, represents a fundamental shift in our thinking about healthcare in the country,” Prime Minister Christie said.  “With its implementation, the execution of even our most far reaching health reform initiatives can be greatly accelerated; and the success of important measures, like the implementation of the Primary Healthcare phase of National Health Insurance, is greatly enhanced.”

Prime Minister Christie said Healthcare access and quality are fundamental responsibilities of Government.  The provision of healthcare in and across the archipelagic geography of the Bahama Islands, presents unique challenges to logistics, resources and access to care; however, today we celebrate the adoption of modern technology to address and overcome these challenges, he added.

“Today represents a new day in Bahamian healthcare,” Prime Minister Christie said.  “Today we are united as we take a leap into the future of healthcare in this country.”

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