The ACT government has selected US-based electronic medical record software company Epic to deliver the territory’s digital health record platform at a cost of $114.1 million.
The 10-year contract, announced on Wednesday, will see the Epic software deployed across Canberra’s entire public health system, including public hospitals and community health centres.
ACT Health approached the market for a provider last August after receiving funding to the tune of $151 million for the project in the 2018-19 budget.
The new platform will introduce a single health record that captures all clinical interactions with patients in one central repository for each of the territory’s 400,000-strong population.
It will contain “observations from clinicians, details about administered medication and information from devices such as heart rate monitors”.
The software will also link up with the national My Health Record system, with relevant data to be automatically uploaded for those who have not opted out.
Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said the contract with Epic was a significant milestone in the transformation of the ACT Health system and would equip healthcare staff with “modern and sustainable technologies”.
“The new digital health record will for the first time deliver a health record that follows the person through their entire journey within the public health system, from referral to discharge and into the community,” he said.
Stephen-Smith said that the coronavirus pandemic had made it clear just how important having accurate and timely information about patients was for health professionals to make clinical decisions.
“A digital health record will improve the flow of information throughout our public health system. Having critical details about patients readily available will help inform clinical decisions quickly and efficiently,” he said.
The record will also “give patients and carers a better connected and more holistic view of their health information, saving them time and effort when engaging with … public health services”, Stephen-Smith added.
ACT Health chief information officer Peter O’Halloran said the platform would lead to reduced mortality rates and increased staff and patient satisfaction, while building on the territory’s efforts to reduce medication errors.
Other Australian health services using Epic, including Melbourne’s Royal Children’s Hospital, had realised some of these safety and quality benefits as a “direct result of using Epic’s software”.
“It will also support us to implement new ways of caring for our community, with a patient portal, telehealth capabilities and artificial intelligence opportunities,” O’Halloran added.
Configuration of the platform is expected to begin early next year, before becoming operational at the territory’s three primary hospitals in 2022-23.
The new platform is the catalyst for ACT Health to start decommissioning as many of the existing clinical systems within its “highly fragmented” IT environment as possible by 2024.
“Currently the territory’s ICT environment is highly fragmented with more than 250 different systems supporting the delivery and management of health care services,” ACT Health said last year.
“The territory will be seeking to decommission as many existing clinical systems as possible, as soon as possible.”