Friday, July 25, 2008

Report from Star Metro

Hospital urged to go electronic

THE Tuanku Ja’afar Hospital (TJH) outpatient department, which receives an average of 1,000 patients daily, should introduce an electronic registration (e-registration) system to reduce waiting time, said Rasah MP Anthony Loke Siew Fook.

He said it was necessary as he had received many complaints of long waits to see the doctor.

Loke said the matter should be expedited as the authorities had been talking about ways for a more efficient public delivery system for some time now.

“One of the reasons for the long wait is the need for patients to be manually registered. This is an outdated system and I hope that they will come up with an online registry and a system that would link up all other related areas such as the patients’ records.

“This department sees many patients daily and the bulk of them are from the lower income group,” he said.

However, services at the hospital have improved since Loke’s last visit. From this month, the outpatient department has extended its operating hours until 9.30pm on weekdays to serve the community better.

A patient who only wished to be known as Ranjini said services had improved by leaps and bounds.
“Before, coming to the outpatient clinic was at least a half-day affair. But now, the system is more efficient and we don’t have to wait so long. It is less than an hour from registration until we collect our medicine,” he said.

Currently, it takes patients anything from 10 to 30 minutes just to get from the information to the registration counter.

Patients are then assigned a number for a corresponding treatment room where they would be attended to by the doctor in charge.

Waiting their turn could again take anything from 10 minutes to half an hour depending on the number of patients and doctors for the day.

Treatment time varies depending upon the nature of illness and whether a patient would need to be referred to other departments such as the lab or radiography.

The second issue that Loke highlighted was the need for up-to-date medical equipment.

“I think the clinic needs to procure a funduscope, which is an instrument used to examine the background of the retina, as it would come in handy for the routine eye screening of diabetics to ensure that they do not suffer from vision problems.

“I understand the clinic treats many diabetics and currently it can take up to a couple of months before a patient with diabetic retinopathy to be properly diagnosed compared to instant results with a funduscope.

“Although the funduscope costs more than RM100,000, it would be well worth the investment considering its benefits,” he said.

Loke said these issues had been brought up at the mid-term review in Parliament and Health Minister Datuk Liow Tiong Lai had agreed to look into both matters.

Patients who were present during Loke’s visit were appreciative of the heavily subsidised cost of treatment at the hospital but many had the same requests on their wish list: improved efficiency and upgraded facilities.

Loke was accompanied by Temiang assemblyman Ng Chin Tsai.

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