Public sector healthcare going hi-tech with US$8m spend
(From left) Shawn Bolton, ICT Lead Consultant at Ministry of Health; Health Minister Dr Christopher Tufton; Carol Robertson, Director Enterprise, Government and IT Solutions at Cable and Wireless Business; Donna Hurmal, Senior Account Manager, Cable and Wireless Business and Garth Lue, Head of Project Management at Cable & Wireless Business during the tour on Thursday.

KINGSTON, Jamaica— The Government of Jamaica in partnership with international donors and private sector interests is close to finishing the first phase of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) infrastructure, which will provide real time data for hospitals and health clinics across the island.

Minister of Health and Wellness, Dr Christopher Tufton, toured the nerve centre for the system at e-Gov offices in Mona as well as the warehouse at Cable and Wireless facilities on Carlton Crescent on Thursday.

The ICT infrastructure is part of the Government of Jamaica's Health System Strengthening Programme which is being financed through the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) with support from the European Union.

According to Tufton, when completed the ICT infrastructure will enable the island's healthcare structure to be on par with First World countries. The first phase costs US$8.4 million.

He said the nerve centre at e-Gov will be a storage facility that will keep patients' information such as personal data and sick profile to be stored in a tamper proof environment.

Tufton stated that the data will be able to to be accessed by all public health facilities across the island by authorised individuals, which will eliminate the need for the physical transfer of paper files. Doctors will also be able to assess, diagnose and treat a patient remotely.

"This is an advanced system that we are putting in. Never before has it been done in Jamaica and I suspect in the region and the advantage and the beauty about this system, it is networking our national connection around health centers and hospitals.

"What that is going to do, it's going to allow us to move information very quickly and safely. That translates to more accurate assessment of a sickness and quicker planning to deal with that person," Tufton said.

The ICT infrastructure at this stage, will comprise over 2,800 devices, which will include desktops, laptops and tablets. These will be connected to the system, which is being done by Cable and Wireless.

He said the system is expected to be able to start using in September, which will signal the start of the second phase, which will involve placing a software on the hardware to do many of the complicated work.

"All combined what this will mean is that we will have one of the most modern technology-based health information systems, just as any First World country, anywhere in the world and that's a good thing.

"It means that we have invested hundreds of millions of dollars to improve the healthcare system and to ensure that patients can be treated in a timely manner," Tufton said.

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