When the SARS scare gripped Toronto last year, at least one of the city’s hospitals realized it needed better information on its staff. That has led the Scarborough Hospital to adopt a health-care resource management (HRM) system from Montreal-based

MediSolution Ltd.

The Scarborough Hospital was hard hit by the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), said Rheta Fanizza, vice-president of diagnostic and information services at the multi-site, 600-plus-bed hospital. “It really brought to light how difficult it was for us to be able to pull our resources … to where we needed them in an atypical situation,” she said.

Deciding it needed master scheduling software to help track the skills of its more than 4,000 health-care professionals and redeploy them when needed, the hospital set out to find software that could help. It evaluated several packages before choosing the MediSolution product, Fanizza said. “We took a few months actually to evaluate a couple of the other big players in the market for the scheduling piece,” she said.

The hospital was already using MediSolution’s human resources software and had a good relationship with the company, which was one reason for selecting MediSolution’s HRM package, Fanizza said. Another factor was the opportunity to be involved from the start in developing MediSolution’s new business intelligence software, which the Scarborough Hospital plans to begin deploying this summer.

The HRM system ties in with the existing MediSolution human resources system and with the hospital’s MediTech payroll system, Fanizza said. The business intelligence system will also draw data from the MediTech system when completed, she added.

The integration will eliminate some re-entry of data and duplication of tasks, said Fanizza. “It’ll be very efficient. It will take out a lot of the processes that are duplicated.”

Besides the human resources, scheduling and business intelligence components, MediSolution’s HRM software also includes patient billing and accounts receivable, payroll and financial management modules, company spokeswoman Sylvia Smellie said. The software competes with MediTech, but also can integrate with it.

While similar in some respects to enterprise software designed for general business use, the MediSolution software takes account of hospitals’ specific needs, Smellie said. “When you approach a hospital, the security of information and urgency and need for accuracy of information obviously is pertinent to patients’ well-being,” she commented. Also, she said, hospitals are generally slower than businesses to adopt information technology, and MediSolution’s software is designed to let them move step by step, implementing one module at a time if they wish.

Smellie added that hospitals are showing more interest in the kind of capabilities MediSolution offers. “Hospitals now are starting more and more to be run like businesses,” she said.

MediSolution has also recently begun offering its software to government, municipalities and the transportation sector, whose needs are somewhat similar to those of hospitals, she added.

With installation starting this spring, Fanizza expects to have the HRM system up and running in three to four months. Not all parts of the hospital will be using it by then, she said, but “enough demonstrate its effectiveness.” Eventually, all departments are expected to use the system.

MediSolution said the company expects revenue of about $400,000 from the deal.

Comment: info@itbusiness.ca

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