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Archive for Thursday, May 20, 1999

HOSPITAL DELAYING COMPUTER CHANGE

May 20, 1999

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Lawrence Memorial Hospital has moved some of its systems to a new computer system. The next phase will occur in July.

Lawrence Memorial Hospital's decision to delay the installation of new computer software for patient billing isn't a warning signal for Y2K compliance, LMH computer specialists say.

The decision to delay the switch, rather, was one of caution and a desire to be prepared for any problems that might crop up, said Tom Pagano, director of management information systems at LMH.

The hospital's new $2.7 million STAR system is a comprehensive management software and hardware system that tracks almost everything involving a patient's stay at LMH, from admission, to lab and pharmacy orders, to billing.

The general ledger, materials management which includes purchasing and inventory, and payroll components of the system went online on Monday. Hospital officials said Wednesday that they decided to move patient billing, clinical components and nursing floors to the new system in mid-July.

"This is basically a soup-to-nuts system," Pagano said. " ... A conversion on a big system happens over a period of time, and we were originally planning on converting everything at once. We decided to do it (in two phases) to limit the impact on the patients."

The extra time allows management information systems staff to test the conversions. The current Saint computer system is more than 10 years old.

"The main issue is were converting data that is essentially 10 to 12 years old, and old and new systems are really different in the way they treat data," Pagano said. "There's a lot of data sitting out there, and we want to clean it up before we convert."

Pagano said there was no reason to make the full conversion this month, and the hospital will have plenty of time before the Dec. 31 deadline to avert the Y2K computer bug.

"Many times when people delay a project, it's viewed as a negative thing," he said. "But the reason you delay, in my 12 years (in information systems), is because you don't want to increase risks."

The STAR payroll system passed its first test this week, when employee paychecks were completed on the new system.

-- Chris Koger's phone message number is 832-7126. His e-mail address is ckoger@ljworld.com.

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