Singapore Launches National EHR, London Hospitals Go To The Cloud

Posted on June 27, 2011 I Written By

Katherine Rourke is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

Today I bring you a couple of interesting clinical data stories from outside the U.S. One involves a cloud pilot and the other a national EHR; while U.S. providers are toying with the former, I doubt the latter will ever happen. Anyway, without further ado:

* Singapore Launches National EHR

Working with Accenture, the country of Singapore recently launched one of the world’s first national EHR systems. The system itself seems straightforward — it will capture medical data and patient demographics across clinic, acute care and community hospital settings — but its scale makes the project unique.

Obviously, the U.S. is nowhere near to creating such a network, and given our industry’s chaotic structure, I don’t see it happening anytime soon. Even centralized, nationally-controlled health systems are struggling to pull something like this off.

It certainly helps that Singapore has a population of just five million; the country plans to spend $144 million just to reach this relatively small group. It’s hard to imagine what it would cost to roll out such a network across the U.K., much less a giant country like the U.S.

Not surprisingly, Accenture worked with many vendors to make the rollout work, including Oracle, Orion Health, IBM and HP.  The partners completed the first stage of the rollout in 10 months (pretty impressive, if you ask me!)

*  National Health Service Pilots Cloud-Based Health Data Services

Next month, London’s Chelsea and Westminster Hospitals plan to begin storing all patient data in in the cloud. The effort, known as E-Health Cloud, is a National Health Service pilot test. The system will offer fine-grained access controls, allowing patients to decide exactly which clinicians, friends and family members can access their records.  According to a report in Engadget, security is tight; users will have to verify their ID multiple times to access their medical data.

As you may know, a small number of U.S. hospitals are experimenting with storing data in private and public clouds. But I’d wager that this effort, backed by a national entity that can roll things out when it pleases, is likely to move far more quickly than U.S. healthcare cloud deployments.

So, progress in Singapore and the U.K.  Somehow, knowing what can be done, the state of regional HIEs and cloud projects in the U.S. seems a little bit depressing, doesn’t it?