Why can’t NHSL install a computer system like Maharagama Cancer Institute?


Doctors and patients at the National Hospital in Sri Lanka (NHSL) say that the Hospital Infromation Managment System (HIMS) has been malfunctioning due to non-payment of the annual maintenance fee to the company in charge of the operation.

A doctor working at NHSL told FactSeeker that X-rays and CT scans can still be conducted, but the results of those tests cannot be monitored in the patient’s ward due to the malfunctioning of the computer system.

As a result, docotrs are forced to visit the laboratory itself to monitor the results.

The HIMS at NHSL was designed by a foreign company at a cost of 40 million Euros (8 billion rupees). There is an additional cost annually for its maintenance.

Meanwhile, the Sunday Times had previously reported how the medical authorities of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) in Maharagama introduced a HIMS that was designed in Sri Lanka at a very low cost a few years ago.

Speaking to the newspaper, Dr. Nishan Siriwardena, senior registrar of Health Informatics at NCI, said that “our system works well without costing resource-poor Sri Lanka exorbitant sums which we can ill-afford”.

At the NCI, the HIMS has been developed in Sri Lanka, installed and remotely monitored by Sri Lankans and is also maintained by Sri Lankans.

Although there has been a plan to provide the same locally developed HIMS to hospitals all over the country, the NHSL in Colombo has opted for a system by paying a much higher amount to a foreign company.

Apart from the NCI, the system has now been installed in many hospitals including Kalubowila, Ragama and Jaffna.

FactSeeker can also reveal that although the locally developed HIMS has initially been installed in the General Hospital in Kandy, a foreign system was installed later and a crisis similar to NHSL has arisesn there, too, due to the lack of funds.

According to the investigation conducted by FactSeeker, due to the use of a locally developed HIMS, the amount saved annually to the Sri Lanka treasury by NCI alone is about Rs. 60 million. It is believed that similar amount is saved annually from other hospitals where it is installed.

Dr. Nishan Siriwardena, who is currently working as Consultant Health Informatics at the Ministry of Health, and who was instrumental in creating the HIMS in NCI, told FactSeeker that there is a possibility of finding a similar system for the NHSL as well.

If this is done, he pointed out, that not only it won’t be another burden to national coffers at a time of a severe economic crisis, but also reduce the risk of patients’ lives being endangered.

When FactSeeker contacted Health Minister Keheliya Rambukwella, Director General of Health Consultant Dr. Asela Gunawardena and Deputy Director General of Health Dr. Sridharan, it was learned that all three of them are abroad.

Dr. Palitha Karunapenuma, Direcotr, Health Informatics at the Ministry of Health, stated that he was driving at that moment. When called again, he did not answer the phone.

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