Near half-billion-dollar South Australian hospital records system failing: AMA

The AMA has said a new electronic records system being rolled out in South Australian hospitals is not fit for purpose.

A new electronic records system being rolled out across South Australia's public hospitals is possibly not fit for purpose, according to the Australian Medical Association (AMA).

The AMA said it sent a questionnaire to almost 250 staff members, including doctors and nurses, asking for their views on the AU$422 million enterprise patient administration system (EPAS).

It says almost 40 percent reported that their opinion of EPAS was poor, 30 percent believed patients are not clinically safer, and 20 percent found it responsible for adverse patient outcomes.

"The AMA has consistently supported the concept of electronic medical records," president William Tam said on Wednesday.

"Yet our members are telling us that EPAS has failed to meet their hopes and expectations and is contributing to errors.

"You might expect some teething problems, but quite honestly, after four years we would expect most problems to be fixed."

However, Health Minister Jack Snelling said the government believes those who responded to the AMA survey were not representative of the wider medical workforce.

Snelling told state parliament that the AMA is a "serial whinger".

Earlier this month, the Council of Australian Governments Health Council (COAG) gave the go ahead for the federal government's electronic health records system, My Health Record, to begin automatically signing up Australians.

By 2018, all Australians will have a My Health Record and by 2022, all healthcare providers will be able to contribute to and use health information stored in My Health Record on behalf of their patients. They will also be able to communicate with other healthcare providers on the clinical status of joint patients via the digital platform.

Australians will be able to opt out if they choose.

Despite approval from COAG, there is no standard way to share data between providers, and by the end of next year only draft standards and a roadmap for implementation are penciled in.

"Base-level requirements for using digital technology when providing care in Australia will be agreed, with improvements in data quality and interoperability delivered through adoption of clinical terminologies, unique identifiers, and data standards," the strategy explains.

"By 2022, the first regions in Australia will showcase comprehensive interoperability across health service provision."

Originally switched on in 2012, My Health Record system was given a further AU$485 million in funding in the 2015-16 Budget, as well as being renamed from the "personally controlled e-health record system" (PCEHR).

In June, New South Wales Minister for Finance, Services and Property Victor Dominello announced the NSW state government would be injecting AU$536 million into eHealth initiatives.

"In eHealth alone, AU$536 million -- half a billion dollars -- for IT infrastructure for health, because we all know health is going to take a large chunk of the budget in the years ahead and if you don't do it intelligently, we're not going to get the outcomes," he said at the time.

"Almost every application of our society that people elect a government, they want better services for the citizens, but you can only deliver better services if it is designed from the intelligent perspective."

With AAP

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