SA govt kicks off $408m e-health roll-out

The South Australian government is getting ready to roll out a $408 million state-wide e-health system to metropolitan hospitals and rural hospitals and services.
Written by Suzanne Tindal, Contributor on

The South Australian government is getting ready to roll out a $408 million state-wide e-health system to metropolitan hospitals and rural hospitals and services.

The Commonwealth Government has provided $90 million for the project under the Council of Australian Governments National Health Reform funding to improve elective surgery and emergency-department funding, with the South Australian government contributing $318 million over 10 years.

The product to be implemented for the project is from Allscripts Healthcare Solutions, which has previously completed large-scale roll-outs in the US, Canada and Singapore. Allscript's system will be installed in metropolitan hospitals and services, as well as at the Glenside Hospital, the new Royal Adelaide Hospital, South Australian Ambulance headquarters, GP Plus Health Care centres, GP Plus Super clinics, Mount Gambier Hospital and Port Augusta Hospital.

The latter two hospitals will have the system installed first, going live in 2013, with the metropolitan hospitals to be connected in 2014. Over 3500 computers are being installed at hospital bedsides so that doctors and nurses can use clinical applications to access patient information. Any GPs with admitting rights to South Australian hospitals will have access the system's clinical portal.

The licence enables the government to roll out the enterprise patient-administration system (EPAS) to all South Australian sites in the future. The government went to tender for the system at the beginning of last year. The original tender documents for the purchase said that the roll-out was to encompass various divisions within SA health, including eight metropolitan hospitals, multiple community clinics, 63 country hospitals and the state ambulance service. Those documents expected the roll-out to finish in 2017.

At the time the tender was issued, SA Health was using 30 clinical systems to provide the required services, including systems from iSOFT (Homer, iPharmacy), TELUS (Oacis), Qantel, Triple G Systems Group/GE Medical Systems, Kestral and Global Health (Chiron/e-pas). The department has selected a systems integrator to implement the chosen solution, but it did not disclose who this was in the tender documents. A newsletter in 2009 said that the department has been working with CSC on the project.

According to an August 2010 department newsletter (PDF), two vendors had been shortlisted for the work, which required the vendor to fulfil 3500 functions and technical requirements for the system. The two vendors gave demonstrations to South Australian Health staff, and the evaluation teams also talked to clients of each vendor.

According to a later newsletter (PDF), Allscripts was announced as the preferred software supplier on 17 November 2010. The planning stage began, with the project team working on a business case to be submitted for Cabinet approval so that the program could move from planning to design and build. As of the November 2011 newsletter (PDF), the team had completed the implementation of a governance structure, the delivery of a program plan and the appointment of personnel.

South Australian Health and Ageing Minister John Hill said that EPAS would consolidate systems, increase productivity and improve clinical work practices.

"This means doctors and nurses spending less time on paperwork, and more time with patients," she said in a statement.

Incoming Federal Health Minister Tanya Plibersek said that the system would help hospitals meet their waiting-time targets.

"It will deliver real-time medical information about emergency patients, monitor the progress of patients in hospitals and alert staff when waiting times exceed targets," she said.

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