Paper cut

KSA's King Fahad Medical City (KFMC) is working on transforming itself into a paperless organisation

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By  Sathya Mithra Ashok Published  October 8, 2008

KSA's King Fahad Medical City (KFMC) is working on transforming itself into a paperless organisation using the best that technology has to offer. In the process, it is set to revolutionise the way all healthcare providers in the country serve their patients.

It is not often that one comes across an organisation like the King Fahad Medical City (KFMC) in KSA.

One of the biggest medical complexes in the region, the more than 1100-bed institution boasts a world-class record in patient care and health services.

We are constantly trying to utilise technology in serving our patients, and we would like KFMC to be a leading organisation in this regard.

"KFMC is a relatively newly established organisation. It is only around four years old. It provides tertiary services in the country and has four main hospitals along with four competency centres," says Jumah Farhan AlAnazi, associate executive director of patient affairs at KFMC.

From the beginning, according to AlAnazi, senior management at KFMC wanted to use the best that technology could provide to offer improved patient care services.

"We are constantly trying to utilise technology in serving our patients, and we would like KFMC to be a leading organisation in this regard. We are in the digital era, and there is no way but to go for better technology and utilise the same. From day one, our CEO provided us the guidance to adopt technology, establish it properly in the organisation, and use advances for the hospital's good," states AlAnazi.

This is one of the major reasons that the institution decided to have a full-fledged IP network from the start.

"KFMC was built more than 15 years ago, and it was dormant for 12 years without starting operations. The institution only started functioning four years back. This history affected us because when we came to start KFMC, we found it without much of the cabling that was necessary and almost without any networking systems. We started the infrastructure investments from the beginning, so we literally only started working on equipment around three years back. At first we used wireless to provide connectivity, but within one year all the hospitals were completed and the entire system along with the facilities were connected through IP. From that day we have been on an IP network," proudly states AlAnazi.

All of the staff, which is around 5000, have an account on the network. Every employee gets an account, and can use it for viewing the DMS (document management system), for Outlook e-mail, and also use the same account to access other systems of the hospital.

Ambitious and far-reaching as KFMC's technology aspirations are, the management wanted to make the institution a truly paperless organisation. With this in mind, the IP network has been evolved over the years, and is used for various services, including the critical hospital information system (HIS).

"We believe that any hospital will fall behind if it keeps using the paper system, and it was with this thought guiding us that we looked for an efficient, comprehensive HIS. We selected Cortex, after reviewing several others, and we have done our own customisation on top of that. We are in the last phase of the development connected to it," states AlAnazi.

The HIS and the IP network together help deliver many applications, including the HR system, to the institution's staff.

According to AlAnazi, almost everything connected to HR is conducted digitally, with very minimal paper usage. Moreover, the entire clinical information system, along with the administrative system is also run on the network via the HIS.

We do billing, items chasing and several other activities through the network. All the pathology, radiology reports and all the diagnoses are available on the HIS.

Admission requests, pharmacy and out-patient diagnosis, dietician requests and even the dictation system are all automated. We have taken care to ensure that backend systems here are suitably advanced and one of the better things is the integration we have achieved with these systems.

Some of us have worked in different hospitals and almost all of them have separate systems, working as individual small islands and they cannot really talk to each other. This increased the difficulty in dealing with data in an effective manner.

At KFMC, the network actually helps to integrate several of the disparate systems in the institution, and aids them in talking to each other. This is actually a stage towards a completely paperless environment," explains AlAnazi.

The paperless cause has been taken to not just the internal records, but also how the hospital deals with the outside world, be it patients seeking care or other hospitals.

"Our patients come to us from all over the Kingdom actually, and we are using an automated referral system to help them. And this is one of the main systems we use, instead of using the hard copies of medical reports or sending information via other methods such as faxes. This automated referral system is entirely web-enabled. We designed it here actually and we use it with our partner hospitals, as well as the main centre in the Kingdom, from where the patients are referred. Those are the major systems at KFMC," says AlAnazi.

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