The National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) is going paperless as it rolls out its electronic health record (EHR) system, in which the medical records of each patient enrolled in National Health Insurance (NHI) will be entirely digital.
The program began in November, with five NHI physicians participating in the pilot of the new web-based system, and it is now officially live.
During a press conference at the authority’s office on Village Road, NHIA Chairman Dr. Robin Roberts called the program “the biggest initiative that has ever been undertaken by the government in this country”.
“Now [this] is a very bold and ambitious move because we are seeking that every person enrolled in our program and subsequently every person that’s enrolled in both the public and private sector in the primary care program will have one common electronic health record, on the same digital platform,” Roberts said.
“Now that speaks volumes…because, number one, for the patient, at any given time the doctor can tell exactly what is the health status of the patient.
“So, therefore, he or she can know how better to improve the care, how better to monitor the patient.
“But more importantly, we are going onto the population basis whereby we can actually at any point in time be able to determine the extent of the health of the population.
“We can look at the present diseases, how commonly they are occurring, what is their prevalence in the community and that allows us to shape programs in order to better the health of the community.”
NHIA Managing Director Graham Whitmarsh, who also brought remarks during the conference, highlighted that digital records will be safeguarded.
He specified that no one will be able to see a patient’s records without their permission, but that some anonymous information would be available to the authority for the purpose of having an overview on health in the country.
“As we sit here today, we’re in the second wave of clinics that are being trained that will complete at the end of this week,” Whitmarsh said.
He added, “But that will enable us for the first time to actually look at the care that we’re delivering and the impact that is happening, and I think this can be particularly impactful in non-communicable diseases; so, obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease – where today we have very limited information about diseases which are at epidemic proportions in The Bahamas.”
Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands on Monday said NHI now has more than 73,000 enrolled beneficiaries, an increase since the start of the financial year of 33 percent.
Roberts said that with the rollout of the new digital platform, the authority’s goal is to have 250,000 people enrolled in the program by the end of this year.
“We’re looking that by the year end of 2020 we will have some 250,000 people enrolled in National Health Insurance, with the intent that, one day, everybody will be enrolled,” Roberts said.
“That we will have one electronic medical record system that only two countries in the world I believe have that, and that is Israel and Iceland.
“And, so, we are looking to do something revolutionary, play a major leadership role in the Caribbean, in fact, in the world, with regards to bettering the healthcare of our people.”
He added, “This is very exciting for us and we look forward to being able to report to you in the very near future just how well we are performing.”