Officials at one of Qatar’s busiest hospitals are warning of longer wait times over the next few weeks as they prepare to transition away from paper-based patient records.
When its system goes live tomorrow, the hospital will join a handful of other facilities here in which doctors can access patient records through a computer, instead of a file cabinet.
The benefit of having an electronic file is that records could be shared more easily between healthcare providers, so that new patient histories don’t have to be taken during each visit.
But setting up the system will likely take time at Women’s Hospital, which sees about 500 out-patients daily and handles some 18,000 births a year.
Appointment delays will stem from a few factors, officials said. Firstly, appointments are expected to run a bit longer due to the extra time needed to register each patient into the system.
Additionally, staff will be getting acclimated to using the new electronic records.
The Peninsula reports that Women’s Hospital may cope with delays by shifting some outpatients to Al Wakrah or Al Khor hospitals. However, the emergency services at Women’s Hospital are expected to remain unaffected.
The newspaper quotes Dr. Nish Patel, Chief Executive Officer of Women’s Hospital, as saying:
“We have started contacting patients who have appointments for next week to keep them informed that they may experience some delay. The weekend is going to be crucial and everything will be back to normal in the second week.”
Women’s Hospital is the latest public healthcare facility in the country to move over to a new Clinical Information System (CIS).
Al Khor Hospital and Al Daayen Clinic implemented the system earlier this year, and Al Gharafa Primary Healthcare Center and Al Gharafa Walk-In Center adopted it last month, Hamad Medical Corp. said in a statement.
Record digitization is part of Qatar’s National Health Strategy – a five-year plan that goes from 2011-2016.
It outlines several ways that the country can work to cope with increasing demand and pressure on health services. According to one recently released report, Qatar’s healthcare sector is one of the fastest growing in the region.
Earlier this year, the Supreme Council of Health (SCH) announced that it was rolling out an electronic birth certificate process across public hospitals here, in which parents could apply for the documents inside the hospital in which their children were born, instead of going to the SCH.
In another effort to reduce paperwork and improve patient care, the SCH is also talking about rolling out a national e-complaint system. Under this online service, patients could report medical errors or grievances for investigation.