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Snelling insists e-health on track for new RAH

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The State Government’s $422 million Enterprise Patient Administration System (EPAS) will be functional “on day one” of the new Royal Adelaide Hospital, Health Minister Jack Snelling says.

Snelling told 891 ABC radio this morning that doctors’ expectations that the EPAS would not be functional at the new RAH until July 2017 were wrong.

InDaily revealed the expectations last week, as well as doctors’ claims that the number of outpatient appointments offered to older people and veterans at the Repatriation General Hospital had halved because of the installation of EPAS at the site.

Snelling said the Patient Administration System (PAS) function of EPAS – which deals with administrative details such as patients’ names, addresses and appointment times – would have to be functional before the new Royal Adelaide Hospital opened.

“On day one, that’s right,” Snelling said.

“Because we need to have a PAS system for the new Royal Adelaide Hospital and that PAS system has to comply with the technical requirements of the new hospital.”

“The PAS side, which is the back of house stuff for the hospital, has to be up and running when we move into the new Royal Adelaide Hospital.”

The PAS function of EPAS is seperate from the clinical database function, which records a patient’s history of medication and surgery, and laboratory results, among other things.

Sources said those clinical functions would have to be carried out by another electronic health records system – one of the many which EPAS was designed to supersede – OACIS.

This morning, Snelling conceded there had been “issues” with EPAS at the Repat.

“Certainly with regards to outpatients at the Repat there have been issues, because we’ve had to move from an old system to a new system, we’ve had to move data over,” he said.

“Any massive IT project, they always have these sorts of teething issues, but the feedback I get, from particularly nursing staff, is they do not want to go back to paper records, they don’t want to go back to the old system.

“They like EPAS, they recognise that there are issues with it but they do not want to go back to the old system of paper records because they recognise the benefits.”

He said the planned closure of the Repat would still reap the benefits of staff training in EPAS.

“We’ll still get the benefits; we’ll still have the staff … trained up in the systems,” he said.

“And the Repat and Noarlunga Hospitals were two of our smaller hospitals where we thought it could be most safely rolled out, without the complexities of a larger hospital.”

The EPAS is currently live at the Repat, Noarlunga Hospital and Port Augusta Hospital.

Snelling also revealed some of the transitional arrangements for moving patients and staff into the new hospital.

He said there would first be a 90-day process of technical checks and testing of the new hospital before a transition period of up to 73 days where staff and patients would be moved.

The new RAH is due to open next year.

Image: Nat Rogers/InDaily

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