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Botswana Hospital Takes A Digital Leap Forward

A digitized and networked African hospital provides care based on U.S. best practices for electronic medical records and clinical systems.

When recruiting for the new hospital, it was clear to prospective Bokamoso employees that the facility would be paperless, said Weiner. "You have to say 'this is our strategy and this is what we're going to do,'" said Weiner. "When you set that goal, you need to be ruthless about it," he said. "If you don't want [to work] in a paperless environment, don't show up," he said.

The Botswana hospital isn't the only fully digital facility developed and managed by OR International. To date, OR International has opened similarly paper-less, film-less hospitals in the United Kingdom, Cyprus and discussions are in the works for a facility in Poland.

The Bokamoso hospital will care for more than 7,000 patients this year, and in the next two years, that figure is expected to double, said Weiner.

An internal IT staff of about 15 manages the systems and on-site data center, and that team is supplemented by another three people from Aspen Advisors, said Scalzi.

Among technologies used in the hospital: Magnum Suite, a health information system from Religare Technologies, an Indian firm based in Bangalore, India. So far, the hospital is using 30 Magnum modules, including patient registration, CPOE, clinical documentation, supply and procurements, pharmacy, labs, radiology and picture archiving, and communications systems (PACS.)

Cisco is the provider of the redundant data network system, including wireless, VoIP and telephony services. The VoIP network and voice mail system provides services at about half the cost of a traditional PBX system, according to OR International.

Also, key hospital staffers have remote access to the EMR and hospital information system through Citrix, which provides Internet-based access to 30 concurrent users from any location, such as a doctor's home office, said Scalzi.

Broadband services are available in the region, he said.

For its hospitals, OR International "takes the best clinical technologies and best practices" available in the U.S. and elsewhere and "puts it overseas," said Weiner.

Bokamoso has further ties to the U.S. -- it's an affiliate of Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare in Memphis and has on its advisory board representatives from a variety of American hospitals, including the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, John Hopkins, Vanderbilt, Weill Cornell, University of California at San Francisco, and Lucille Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford.

"This is first-rate care with full-scale clinical systems and a paperless environment," Weiner said.

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