IT Upgrade Offers Evolution, Not Revolution, for SingHealth

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An upgrade to the IT system used by radiologists at Singapore General Hospital won't revolutionize the care that patients receive there, but it will offer incremental improvements that should help the hospital improve its operational efficiency and raise the level of patient care over time, according to a doctor involved with the project.

Singapore General Hospital, which is run by Singapore Health Services (SingHealth), plans to roll out Microsoft's Amalga Hospital Information System 2009 Radiology Management Solution before the end of this year, and use of the software will be expanded to other SingHealth hospitals after that. Radiology is a branch of medicine that uses images, such as x-rays, to diagnose and treat patients.

"We have multiple radiology departments with a wide range of equipment and our old radiology management system couldn't manage the complex workflows," said Dr. Wong Yue Sie, chief operating officer at SingHealth and Singapore General Hospital.

Instead of drawing on data from two different databases, patient records and data such as x-ray images will be contained in one database under the new system, making access faster and more accurate.

The new system will also allow the department to improve its efficiency and better allocate resources, which should reduce the length of time that patients must wait for their results, Wong said.

Migrating information stored in the Radiology Department's current systems to the new system will take time, with the migration of patient records expected to be completed before the system goes live at the end of this year.

The department's image database -- 10 years worth of images contained in terabytes of data -- will take longer. The hospital expects to have the most recent images, as well as images used as a cross reference, migrated to the new system by the end of this year. The remaining images will be migrated to the new system in phases, and should be completed within two years.

Over the next 10 years, SingHealth and Microsoft will work together to improve and extend the radiology system, eventually giving doctors access to patient files from different devices.

"This is an evolutionary path. We do see this as a long-term commitment and we will be working together [with Microsoft] to ensure that it does meet clinical needs," Wong said.

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