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Revealed: Govt's unused e-health software

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UPDATED: A relatively cheap software upgrade featuring all the functions of the $422 million Enterprise Patient Administration System – and more – was purchased by SA Health but never implemented, health insiders say.

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The beleaguered EPAS, billed as a statewide solution to slow, paper-based and outdated e-health records systems, has been plagued by doctors’ complaints that it slows down care and risks patients’ safety.

Despite the complaints, however, SA Health has persisted with implementing the system.

But InDaily can reveal claims the department purchased a software upgrade to another system – OACIS – in 2009, which boasts all of the health record functions of EPAS.

SA Health would not reveal the cost of the upgrade, but InDaily understands it is significantly cheaper than the $422 million spent on EPAS.

And unlike EPAS, an older version of OACIS is already installed on SA Health computer systems in hospitals across the state.

“The upgrade version (of OACIS) has got everything we need,” a source inside SA Health told InDaily.

“The OACIS we’re using at the moment is shit. It needs to be upgraded.

“In the current format it’s in, it’s really rudimentary, and it needs to be able to provide a lot more than it’s currently providing.

“And the upgrade is sitting there and we’re not allowed to (have it)…we’ve got the functionality that’s been paid for that’s not switched on and could really help our staff and make our lives a lot easier.”

SA Health this afternoon responded that it has “never purchased an upgrade to OACIS that includes all the functionality of EPAS”, but that a specific module was purchased, and not implemented, due to “a number of issues with performance, software and functionality that deemed it unsuitable for SA Health needs”.

More complaints about EPAS emerged this morning, this time citing the danger of its ‘copy-paste’ function.

A doctor who has previously worked with EPAS told InDaily that the function risks a failure to prioritise patients with new, serious symptoms.

The doctor told InDaily of an incident in which a medical intern had copied and pasted a patient’s clinical notes from a previous day without adding that they had suffered a serious laceration since the case notes were written.

Because of the visible nature of the injury, the patient could be triaged appropriately – prioritised by the seriousness of the injury.

However, said the doctor, the incident demonstrated the dangerous possibility that treatment for a seriously ill patient could be delayed because of a ‘copy-paste’ error.

He also claimed the time taken to admit patients had increased because of the use of EPAS, from about half an hour to two hours.

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