SA pushes the button on statewide EHR

While Victoria has dumped its statewide eHealth program, South Australia is forging ahead, committing an extra $142.6 million over 10 years in last week's budget for the development of its Enterprise Patient Administration System (EPAS).

The EPAS, announced in mid-December last year and funded by $318 million from the state government and $90m from the federal government, is being developed by Allscripts Healthcare Solutions.

The full EPAS solution will be rolled out to all metropolitan hospitals and services, as well as Glenside Hospital and the new Royal Adelaide Hospital, SA Ambulance headquarters, GP Plus health care centres and GP Plus super clinics, as well as Mount Gambier and Port Augusta hospitals.

Some country hospitals have missed out due to limited bandwidth and technological infrastructure, but the government hopes to be able to add those hospitals when the technology enables it, potentially through the National Broadband Network (NBN).

The agreement with Allscripts includes an enterprise licence to potentially roll out full EPAS functionality to all SA Health sites in the future.

Bill Le Blanc, general manager of eHealth Services for SA Health, told the CeBIT conference in Sydney recently that the first site will be going live in the first months of the next calendar year.

While Mr Le Blanc would not go into detail about the EHR rollout, the SA Minister for Health, John Hill, said in a statement announcing the project last year that the two country hospitals – Mount Gambier and Port Augusta – will be the first to get EPAS in 2013 with the metropolitan hospitals connected in 2014.

As part of the statewide program, computers are being rolled out to every bedside in the state, allowing clinicians to access clinical information at the bedside via EPAS and patients to access entertainment options. The government has partnered with Telstra in the roll out, with entertainment services available on a pre-paid basis.

Mr Le Blanc told CeBIT that this should be complete in August. “To my knowledge we are the first jurisdiction globally to deploy bedside computers, end to end throughout the whole health system,” he said.

“We are half way through that deployment as of [May 22]. We have 1500 devices online and we will finish the deployment by August of this year. Delivering clinical information to the clinicians at the bedside is one of the key enablers for the changes going forward in the system.”

As part of the EPAS implementation, GPs with admitting rights to SA hospitals will have access to a new clinician portal, where they will be able to view patient information, orders for tests and medicines and review results.

Patients will also have access to summary information including their appointments through a web-based patient portal. The EPAS is being designed so it can link to the national PCEHR.

Last week's budget also included $30.4 million over two years for a new digital system for pathology testing. State treasurer Jack Snelling said the Enterprise Pathology Laboratory Information System (EPLIS) will be a statewide electronic storage system for all pathology tests.

There will also be a new Enterprise System for Medical Imaging (ESMI), with the budget allocating $18.7 million over three years for the storage and distribution of x-rays, ultrasound images and CT and MRI scans.

Mr Le Blanc said planning for the initiative had taken several years, and was first enabled by the Healthcare Act in 2008, which abolished hospital boards and changed the reporting lines of hospital chief executives directly to the CEO of SA Health.

The department also undertook a complete restructure of IT staff within the department, he said. “The third thing we did before pushing the button on the statewide EHR was a workforce restructure. You can't run an enterprise class electronic health records system on health-grade infrastructure with 400 generalists.

“What we have is a classic centralised service provider model. Cost reduction was not the reason for doing this. The reason for doing this was to position the organisation to be able to support an enterprise eHealth system on a statewide basis, spanning all hospitals.”

Posted in Australian eHealth

Comments   

# Matt Nielsen 2012-06-06 11:50
When reading "is being *developed* by Allscripts Healthcare Solutions." Perhaps I am taking this too literally but it raises the question as to how much customisation is being done for this roll out and at what cost? This vendor has a significant world wide foot print of this product, it should be COTS for an EPAS. Is it genuinely the right fit? Is it being customised for the right reasons?

Where does this fit with OACIS? In my opinion OACIS is another example where a bespoke product and implementation was chosen when COTS products were available and in the long run it was not cost effective.
# Kate McDonald 2012-06-06 11:56
I'll do some more investigating, Matt, and will let you know.

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