Cost the biggest obstacle to docs joining health database

Recent discussions on the National Electronic Health Records (NEHR) system have painted a picture of the Health Ministry attempting tirelessly to drag private sector medical practitioners, kicking and screaming, to the national database without success, and hence having to turn to legislation as a last resort. This could not be further from the truth (Patients first in national record system; July 12).

Until the recent consultation sessions on the proposed Health Regulation Bill, there had been no active and concerted promotion of the NEHR to private medical practitioners.

Participation in the NEHR requires private medical practitioners to incur significant expenses to modify their clinic management software to interface with the national database.

In some cases, the clinic software may be so dated that modification may not be possible and new software has to be purchased. In others, clinic workflow may have to be modified and workload increased.

In the absence of active promotion and offers of assistance from the ministry, is it any wonder that few have volunteered thus far?

During the consultation session I attended, no medical practitioner objected to participating in the national database.

But all were concerned with whether their clinic management software could be reprogrammed, how that would affect their work and who would bear the cost of doing so.

The ministry was aware of the cost concern and promised to look into it.

Cheng Shoong Tat

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 15, 2017, with the headline 'Cost the biggest obstacle to docs joining health database'. Print Edition | Subscribe