Defunct Software Costs Guam Hospital Over $900,000

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Officials says current system lacks critical integration capability

By Joy White

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Marianas Variety Guam, April 4, 2013) – Guam Memorial Hospital (GMH) Authority officials told legislators yesterday the hospital has been paying for a software system that is not functional. More than $900,000 has been paid to software company NTT Data, but several steps for conversion and full utilization of the software have yet been completed.

"We’ve been paying $40,000 a month from the beginning of 2011 for three software systems – cycle, clinical, and integrated financial – and yet we haven’t converted our system yet. Over $900,000 has been paid to NTT and we don’t have any of those systems operational," said GMH Chief Financial Officer Alan Ulrich.

The system was delayed last year because the hospital did not have adequate computer terminals to support the system. In August 2012, more than $150,000 was appropriated to purchase the new terminals. The system was set to go live last February but was delayed again.

GMH officials may now have to look at another company as a variety of problems were discovered over the past month, said Joseph Verga, GMH administrator.

"We’ve decided to take a step back and explore some other options because this system is not only giving us problems, we’re identifying real gaps in meeting our needs moving forward. And perhaps this may not be the system to invest any more money in," Verga said.

Software problems

The current system does not provide integrated software for critical areas, including the emergency department, laboratory, and the operating room management. Instead, these services have to be patched in.

In January, a billing error was discovered in the system, resulting in $1.9 million in unbilled pharmaceutical charges since May 2012. Verga said NTT Data may be held accountable for the billing error.

Currently, the hospital owes NTT Data $400,000, but the payment is being delayed while GMH considers these factors.

Last year, it was revealed that $77 million was found to be uncollectable because of poor documentation and billing.

In addition, without the upgrades and by not computerizing health records, GMH is losing out on potential grants and additional revenue from Obamacare and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

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