Hospitals look to install controversial SMS system

The controversial SMS computer system chosen by Health Waikato and Capital Coast Health, is being looked at by up to seven other health authorities in New Zealand who are planning to upgrade their own systems.

The controversial computer system chosen by Health Waikato and Capital Coast Health, is being looked at by up to seven other health authorities in New Zealand who are planning to upgrade their own systems.

SMS (Shared Medical Systems) New Zealand vice-president Tom Tomlin says the US company is talking to six or seven of New Zealand's 23 Health and Hospital Services and "two or three" are likely to make a decision on which system to buy before the end of the year.

However, he says their decisions will depend on developments at Health Waikato and Capital Coast, "and there has been some misunderstanding of what we are trying to accomplish - side issues have overtaken the significant positive accomplishments. It will be easier to show our customers what it does when the systems are fully operational."

Health Waikato and Capital Coast have been criticised for their choice of SMS over other less expensive options. Health Waikato was recently forced to reveal that its purchase will cost $72 million over the next five years, instead of the $10.4 million originally suggested. Documents released to the Waikato Times after a complaint to the Ombudsman showed that SMS was the most expensive option considered by Health Waikato. Capital Coast medical staff have also spoken out about the cost and effectiveness of their new system.

Tomlin is creating a New Zealand-led company and is hiring local staff. "We have six New Zealand staff and we're dedicated to becoming a New Zealand operation," he says. "Our business philosophy is to use US staff to set up a business and then recruit and train nationals [locally] to run it."

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