The South Australian Government will be racing to repair problems with its $422 million EPAS system to ensure it can open the doors to the New Royal Adelaide Hospital on time and avoid the ehealth pitfalls that have delayed its fellow states.
SA’s Enterprise Patient Administration System has been put on hold as the state’s health department works through a number of funding questions and usability complaints.
But the rollout will need to be brought back to life before long if the New Royal Adelaide Hospital – recently described by the state’s auditor-general as “reliant” on the EPAS for its proposed model of operation – is to meet its April 2016 deadline, the Liberal opposition has pointed out.
“As EPAS is the only option on the table for the new Royal Adelaide Hospital it is critical that the Minister finds a solution to its deep seated problems well before the opening of the new Royal Adelaide Hospital,” shadow health minister Stephen Wade said in a statement.
“If EPAS fails at the NRAH the impact on patient care in South Australia will be devastating,” he warned.
Western Australia has only just opened the doors to its delayed Fiona Stanley Hospital, after undercooked IT held back the start of operations by six months, costing the state millions extra on top of its outsourced construction deal.
A recent report handed down by Queensland’s Auditor General Andrew Greaves warned that IT woes threatened to subject its new Sunshine Coast Hospital to the same late fate it they remain unaddressed.
Health Minister Jack Snelling, however, has assured parliament that he is throwing all the resources he can at the issue.
“I have instructed the department to concentrate entirely on the delivery of EPAS to the new Royal Adelaide Hospital because, of course, it is going to be critical,” he told parliament last week.
“One of the most important things is that we are able to roll EPAS out to the existing Royal Adelaide Hospital in plenty of time before the transition to the new hospital. We do not want to be dealing with the complexities of a new IT rollout and the complexities of moving to the new hospital all at the same time, so we will be very careful to make sure that EPAS is ready.”
There is some good news for the state’s health bureaucrats, however, with the prospect of a battle through the courts with EPAS vendor Allscripts appearing less likely.
Auditor-general Simon O’Neill has revealed that SA Health’s claims against Allscripts to cover the cost of the EPAS delays – specifically a late billing module – are close to being resolved.
“The parties envisage that formal dispute resolution will not be required, and are in discussions to find a mutually agreeable solution which will not impact the project and protect the interests of both,” his latest report states.