EPAS goes as electronic medical records program overhauled

The Marshall Liberal Government will roll out a new electronic medical records system for South Australian hospitals after the former Labor Government’s failed Enterprise Patient Administration System (EPAS) debacle.

An independent review into EPAS has recommended a fundamental reconstruction of the medical records program and that the EPAS brand be dropped.

Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said the review, conducted by an independent expert panel, found the EPAS program was centrally driven, poorly implemented, and rolled out IT elements that were not fit-for-purpose.

“One of the key findings is that the program was rolled out without a strong consensus from doctors and nurses and without properly engaging the software provider,” Minister Wade said.

“It just doesn’t make sense to lock out clinicians - the very people who have to use the system - and the software provider - the people with experience in making the system work.

“This is just another example of the former Labor Government not engaging clinicians and the taxpayers of South Australia paying the price.

“This isn’t just a minor error or oversight. It’s cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.

“More than $320 million has already been spent on the EPAS rollout. Less than a third of the way through the rollout, 80 per cent of the budget has already been spent.”

The new plan is a hard reset on the EPAS Program to a fundamentally new SA Health medical records program.

The way forward recommended by the Panel involves:

  • creating a SA Health Digital Strategy;
  • significant governance reforms that devolve responsibility for implementation and configuration to LHNs and clinicians; 
  • actions to improve the Sunrise EMR and Allscripts PAS software solutions and implementation;
  • focussing on two exemplar sites to implement the Sunrise solution that applies the Review's proposed changed approach, and any future decisions to implement the Sunrise EMR and Allscripts PAS are contingent on user acceptance at the exemplar sites; and
  • improving implementation approach and post go-live support, regardless of which solution is implemented

Minister Wade said the independent panel’s report includes 36 recommendations, all of which have been fully accepted or accepted in principle by the State Government.

“Whilst there are limitations with the Allscripts product, the bigger issues were with the configuration and the implementation,” he said.

“The lack of consultation led to the implementation of a system that's clunky and cumbersome, doesn’t meet the needs of our medical staff and is in need of a major overhaul.

“We want an electronic records system that improves patient outcomes rather than undermines them.

“We want to empower our clinicians and staff with the right tools so they can make the best decisions for their patients.

“We are committed to once again fixing Labor’s mess. We are reversing the damage done by Transforming Health, we are turning around the financial and operational performance of our central hospitals and we will bring our electronic medical records system in line with best practice.

“The EPAS Program roll out will not continue and SA Health will make immediate and significant changes to its electronic medical records program – to shift control from head office to the hospitals, to improve the software, and to improve the way SA Health manages IT projects.

“This includes working with our doctors and nurses to make the necessary improvements to deliver a fit-for-purpose system that is safe for patients and staff.”

Minister Wade said SA Health will implement the recommendations and the reset, rolling out the program at two ‘exemplar’ sites, the Royal Adelaide Hospital and Mount Gambier Hospital.

“These two exemplar sites will receive a new, significantly improved version of the Sunrise software, and new governance arrangements will put control back in the hands of the clinicians.”

The roll out of the Sunrise software at the RAH and Mount Gambier Hospital will be completed in 2020 and within the existing project budget of $421 million.

A new Program Board will oversee the delivery of the new project and will be led by the chair of the independent review panel, Mr Shane Solomon.

The independent panel’s report, and the State Government’s response, can be found at www.sahealth.sa.gov.au

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