SA pledges $192m for e-health systems

South Australia's journey into e-health has been all but cemented, with the state setting aside $191.7 million in funding to upgrade and implement IT healthcare systems.

South Australia's journey into e-health has been all but cemented, with the state setting aside $191.7 million in funding to upgrade and implement IT healthcare systems.


(Littman image by Katrin Morenz, CC BY-SA 2.0)

South Australia Health secured $142.6 million over the next 10 years to roll out its Enterprise Patient Administration System (EPAS).

The funding, revealed in the state's 2012-13 Budget, will allow EPAS to be used in all metropolitan public hospitals, GP Plus Centres and two of the state's country general hospitals. The scope of the system has changed since the government went to tender at the beginning of 2010. At that time, the system was meant to include eight metropolitan hospitals, multiple community clinics, 63 country hospitals and the state ambulance service.

Getting to this point led to the government last year contributing $318 million over 10 years to roll out over 3500 computers at hospital bedsides for clinicians, and to enable the EPAS roll-out.

Now, EPAS is getting an investment of $142.6 million over the next 10 years, and, in addition, is receiving a further $51 million in operating expenses to install the system and train users. This is slightly offset by the operational savings that the system is expected to bring the state, of about $2 million each year. The papers also state that the new system will eliminate $24 million in IT-related expenses that were slated for 2014-15 and 2015-16.

The system itself will consolidate and standardise the state's multiple legacy health systems. At the time of the original tender for the project, there were about 30 systems in use, with SA Health manager for e-health services Bill Le Blanc saying at CeBIT last week that most of these systems do not "talk" to each other.

Supporting EPAS is the Enterprise Pathology Laboratory Information System (EPLIS), for which there has been $30.4 million set aside in the Budget for two years. The system is meant to help with safely processing tests, storing results, validating data and delivering results to clinicians.

It replaces SA Pathology's existing Centricity Ultra Laboratory Information System, which will go offline sometime next year. By changing to the new system, the state hopes to save $1.7 million each year from 2015-16.

Clinicians are further being supported by technology in the area of medical imaging.

Around $18.7 million over three years has been set aside to implement an Enterprise System for Medical Imaging (ESMI), which aims to rid the need for hard-copy films, film storage and retrieval costs as much as possible.

The funding is partially offset by $11.8 million in existing funding from the Bio-Medical Equipment and Special Purposes Fund programs, and $6 million from the existing National Partnership of Hospital and Health Workforce Reform fund.

An additional $11.3 million of operating expenditure will be needed to support the existing system and then train users, once the transition to the new system is achieved. But this, too, is partially offset by the existing operating budget of $10 million and $1.3 million in Commonwealth funding.

ESMI is expected to save the state $0.5 million annually from 2013-14.

Outside of healthcare, the state has set aside $1.7 million to contribute to the National Emergency Warning System that is being upgraded to provide location-based emergency information directly to mobile handsets. The system is slated to be partially operational by November.

South Australia's property industry will also get a boost from technology, with the state injecting $4.7 million over the next four years to enable participation in the National Electronic Conveyancing System (NECS) from 2014-15. NECS will enable property transactions to be settled electronically, as well as reduce cross-state complexities that exist through the existing jurisdictional system.


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