Sands: Nothing to show for $18 million contract

Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands said yesterday that the government has “little to show” for an $18 million contract that was signed by the Christie administration in 2016 with a U.S.-based company to digitize patient records in the public health system.

“We could have spent, I’m advised, maybe $7 million or even $8 million, and I’m advised there’s not even a single line of code that has been downloaded onto a Public Hospitals Authority (PHA) computer,” he said outside Cabinet.

“We don’t have an electronic medical record and it is quite disconcerting that many years after signing this contract that we have very little to show and we may have to start over.”

In August 2016, the Christie administration signed an $18.39 million contract with Allscripts/Infor Lawson to implement an integrated health information management system, which would have automated several functions within the public healthcare system.

The system was meant to replace PHA’s Keane Insight System and the integrated public health information system. 

Some functions that would be automated as a result would have included patient access and identity management, patient accounting, health record information management, materials management, general financials including supply chain management modules and the emergency department information system (EMR).

 “I am sure that taxpayers would expect that if millions of dollars of their money is spent that they will get something for it, and that having sacrificed those funds, the expectation would be that there would be advantages and improvements to the health system,” Sands said.

“That has not happened.” 

On Monday, Opposition spokesman for health Dr. Michael Darville said that the deal had been made with a reputable company and blamed the failure of the project on the Minnis administration.

“Were it not for the minister of health’s stop, review and cancel policy, this health initiative could have played a pivotal role in the transformation of the public healthcare system prior to the full launch of universal healthcare by way of National Health Insurance,” Darville said in a statement.

“We make no apologies for awarding the contract to Allscripts, a reputable U.S. medical software company. The experts recommended them as the number one choice.”

In response, Sands said yesterday, “We understand now how this problem may have occurred, because I do not believe that the [former] minister for Grand Bahama was ever the substantive minister of health, nor was the minister of national security, nor was the prime minister, nor was a number of other people that carried the health portfolio in the previous administration.

“And so the diffusion of attention probably led in part or in whole to this mess.”

Sands said the issue with lost patient files during Hurricane Dorian could have been avoided had the system been functioning as planned.

“The idea of an electronic medical record, there are many advantages,” he said.

“One, it is portable so that somebody who is seen in Grand Bahama and then moves to New Providence doesn’t have to have a physical record that they bring with them.

“It can be accessed and it absolutely improves information sharing. It also reduces the need to keep storerooms and storerooms of paper. That said, we don’t have an electronic medical record in the public sector. We do in the private sector and certainly NHI (National Health Insurance) has rolled out their electronic medical record system. So, we are behind the eight ball and we need to catch up.”

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Rachel Knowles

Rachel joined The Nassau Guardian in January 2019. Rachel covers national issues. Education: University of Virginia in Charlottesville, BA in Foreign Affairs and Spanish

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