SA Health to delay EPAS at RAH until new hospital complete

The South Australian Department of Health will wait until the new Royal Adelaide Hospital is complete in 2016 before implementing the Enterprise Patient Administration System (EPAS) in a further delay to the system's roll-out.

The original plan for the roll-out was to go live at Noarlunga and Port Augusta hospitals in 2013 and the other metropolitan hospitals, including the existing RAH, in 2014.

However, the roll-out has been delayed by a series of problems, including a protracted issue with the billing system, claims by the state government that cuts to hospital funding in last year's federal budget would affect its plans, and a number of flaws in the clinical modules.

A critical Auditor-General's report released last December found that there were close to 5000 defects in the system, not just affecting billing. Auditor-General Simon O'Neill also found that it would cost more than expected – rising from the original $408 million to $422 million – which would negate the estimated financial benefits of implementing the system over maintaining legacy solutions.

SA Health called a temporary halt to the roll-out last year to iron out some of the problems through what it calls a “stabilisation phase”.

SA Health CEO David Swan issued a statement today saying that the period of stabilisation had been successfully completed, and the department was now developing plans for its implementation at the new RAH.

“The original plan to implement the EPAS solution into the current Royal Adelaide Hospital and then the new RAH was reliant on having a stable technical platform,” Mr Swan said.

“This stabilisation work needed to be finalised before we reviewed the EPAS implementation schedule, and this has now been successfully completed.

“Upon review, and with the timeframe available to us, it has become apparent that the most appropriate approach is to concentrate our resources on implementing EPAS directly into the new Royal Adelaide Hospital in 2016.”

He said this would provide more time to deliver a comprehensive EPAS training strategy that aligns with the new model of care at the new RAH.

“A comprehensive training program is currently being developed and will be made available to all staff well in advance of the move to the new hospital,” he said.

“This training will include reviews of workflows, workshops and practical simulation training to ensure all staff are fully conversant with EPAS well before it is activated at the new RAH.”

In addition to critical reports detailed in the Auditor-General's report from some clinicians currently using the system, EPAS has been a sticking point in the Rural Doctors' Association of South Australia's (RDASA) contract negotiations with Country Health SA.

RDASA warned in November last year that negotiations for the next three-year industrial agreement for rural GPs working as VMOs at Country Health SA hospitals were in danger of breaking down over four key issues, including the requirement that they commit to using EPAS.

The SA government subsequently offered a three-month extension to negotiations in an effort to head off the possibility that rural hospitals would not be adequately staffed beyond the contract deadline at the end of February.

Posted in Australian eHealth


0 # Lachlan Dixon 2015-04-03 09:10
Total and complete insanity.. moving staff to a brand new facility AND implementing a new Electronic Patient Record system at the same time is incredibly dangerous. Adverse events are an almost certain outcome in a scenario like this.

But.. the one saving grace is that its common knowledge throughout SA Health that EPAS is going to be totally dumped and that it wont go live at the new RAH. This trickle of bad news that we are being fed is an attempt to create a soft landing for the government who are eventually going to be forced to fess up to the waste of $422M dollars..
0 # Philip Robinson 2015-04-03 10:03
Congratulations on the story and I note the spin doctor timing of releasing a statement on the Thursday before Easter. Given the defects, SA Health had not much choice but to go down this path but have now made the opening of the new RAH contingent on EPAS. Does anyone know if the end of support date for the rural hospital system, announced to the ASX by Global Health, has been extended beyond June 30th?
0 # Philip Robinson 2015-04-03 10:13
Further to my previous comment it is 31 March 2015 that the Chiron licence expires for SA Health. Global Health ASX:GLH have announced to the Stock Exchange that SA Health can no longer use the licence and that they will commence proceedings in the Federal Court to protect their intellectual property.
0 # Paul Venables 2015-04-03 10:27
As a veteran of the IT Industry, with a long-term focus in its application to Healthcare I find it extremely disappointing to continue seeing articles such as this one. It shows that the Health industry hasn't learned much from past experience and continues to make the same costly mistakes when implementing new IT solutions.

I also question whether the decision to defer EPAS go-live until opening of the new RAH is a wise one. It adds a lot of complexity and risk.
0 # Cassandra 2015-04-03 16:42
As a veteran of the Health Information Management industry, I sincerely hope that significant funds have been allocated for training and employment of expertise in this project.
0 # Paul Venables 2015-04-06 13:50
The world of Health IT has made big advances (with more in the pipeline) since SA Health went to Tender and selected their EPAS supplier. As so little progress has been made with the implementation it will be sensible to review the validity of the decision before commencing rollout to further sites. A couple of very relevant questions are; why has it taken so long to get to this point in the project, and what is the likelihood, and risks/costs, of being the sole implementation of the chosen the software in Australia.

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