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Roll-out of cancer information system hampered by delays

The national cancer information system (NCIS) by a number of months, while the impact of the cyberattack on implementation is still being assessed, the Medical Independent (MI) can report. The NCIS is a clinical information system which will be used in the nine designated cancer centres and 17 other hospitals to support the care of oncology and haemato-oncology patients. At a meeting of the executive management team of the National Cancer Control Programme (NCCP) in January, the minutes of which were seen by MI through Freedom of Information law, it was stated that the Covid-19 surge at the time would “impact on the roll-out with potential delays” of three-to-four months.

At the beginning of the year, St James’s Hospital and Beaumont Hospital in Dublin were planning to ‘go live’ with the system in the first quarter of 2021. However, a NCCP spokesperson told MI that completion of the installation of the NCIS in St James’s and Beaumont is now expected by year-end.

“The response to Covid-19 did have and continues to have an impact on the implementation projects in individual sites, with projects that were planned for 2020/2021 delayed,” the spokesperson stated. Implementation of the system has been completed in St Luke’s Hospital, Rathgar; University Hospital Galway; and Mayo University Hospital.
Roll-out to the remaining hospitals will proceed throughout 2022/2023.

In relation to the cyberattack, the NCCP spokesperson stated: “The cyberattack continues to have an impact on many hospital services and projects including the NCIS.”

“The NCIS suffered no loss of data or functionality. As the impacts of the cyberattack abate, the roll-out timelines for the NCIS will be reassessed, with every effort being made to retain the roll-out sequence.”

No system-specific changes are envisaged at this stage, but recommendations and measures resulting from the cyberattack response will be applied to the NCIS, this newspaper was told. The development of the NCIS was led by the NCCP in response to the requirement identified by cancer care services. The system is to be used where medical oncology and haemato-oncology patients are receiving systemic anti-cancer therapy.

Access to the patient’s cancer treatment record will be available through the NCIS. This will ensure that all relevant healthcare providers have access to the patient’s data in an appropriate and timely manner. The NCIS has a number of key functionalities, which will be used by various healthcare professionals in areas including: Prescribing; electronic medication administration records; support for aseptic compounding; multidisciplinary team meetings; documentation;
and reporting.

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