Online hospitals to curb repeat medical tests and claims


Sunday April 9, 2006

Online hospitals to curb repeat medical tests and claims


PETALING JAYA: The Health Ministry will introduce a Hospital Information System (HIS) for the transfer of health data and test results between private and public hospitals.

The online system, expected early next year, will help curb fraudulent medical insurance claims.

In addition, hospitals will not be able to overcharge by repeating expensive tests when patients transfer from one hospital to another because the medical data will be available online at the request of doctors.

The HIS will facilitate easier transfer from private to government hospitals in the event that a patient runs out of funds.

Its introduction will also save the patient the need to retake health examinations as doctors records and notes will be transmitted online.

Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said the Government was working on the integration of services between private and government hospitals and the new system would be implemented in stages.

At present, there is this dichotomy between the private and public sectors. Patients cant migrate easily from one to the other because of differences in payment and a lack of coordination and co-operation.

The information system will integrate the flow of information and further improve healthcare delivery by providing accurate and complete patient information online.

Implementation of the HIS will be undertaken in phases and will include all new and existing hospitals and clinics, he added.

Dr Chua said commercialisation of medical services was worrying.

And this is a trend that occurs everywhere. This means that health services become more and more expensive because of the demand for it by more educated patients.

With the increasing demand for healthcare, the price will continue to go up, he said.

Healthy Aging and Wellness Society adviser Dr Rajbans Singh welcomed the move, noting that such sharing of information was practised in advanced countries like the United States, Australia and Europe.

He said patients would often turn up from different hospitals and doctors were forced to rerun tests as they could not retrieve the medical records from other hospitals.

With online hospitals, it will make their work easier, but the transfer of data must be secure and safe, he said.

Confidentiality is crucial and the data should not get into the wrong hands, he added.