Sunquest charts a path in the Sunshine State

US vendor Sunquest caused a few raised eyebrows this week when it was revealed that the Tucson firm had played a blinder and won the hotly contested tender for a new laboratory information system to replace Auslab for Pathology Queensland, the bill for which the Bananabenders estimate will cost a minimum of $50 million but is budgeted for up to the century mark.

While an established name in global LIS circles, from what we gather Sunquest has not had an installation in Australia before. The win follows the entry of fellow US firm SCC Soft Computer into the local market last year, with its $42 million contract to replace the Ultra system used by Pathwest in WA.

All of the big local and global names bid for the contract, which is currently held by Citadel Health, the Canberra IT services firm that bought Auslab developer PJA Solutions in 2015. Auslab has had a revamp but that was not enough to get it across the line, it seems. The system is also used by some large public pathology services in NSW and is currently being rolled out by Melbourne Health, and in the meantime Citadel will continue its support for the Queensland system until 2020 at least.

The big surprise was that Cerner missed out on the prize. Cerner has had a foothold in Queensland for many years and supplies the state's EMR, but it also offers its pathology module as a standalone solution, which is what will be rolled out in South Australia now that the massive, majestic new Royal Adelaide Hospital is open.

We hear that should Sunquest's prototype not prove to be up to scratch – one of its biggest challenges will be sorting out the notoriously complex billing system – then Cerner has been earmarked as the runner-up. There is plenty of activity in the pathology sector with Melbourne's Northern Health going to tender in May, so there are plenty of options out there.

We'll watch with real interest to see how Cerner's system goes at the new RAH, where it has been dubbed EPLIS. The nRAH, probably the most scrutinised, criticised and vilified building project in Australia since the Sydney Opera House, fully opened its $2.3 billion high-tech doors this week and everything looks to have gone swimmingly, but the looming go-live of EPLIS, and the full roll-out of EPAS, will test the mettle of SA Health. Let's see if they can pull it off.

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