Premier Jay Weatherill says relatively inexpensive e-health software developed by SA firm Alcidion – which was rejected by SA Health in 2014 when it was pitched as a way to improve the embattled, $422 million electronic health records system EPAS – is “a thing of the future”.
Weatherill delivered a glowing keynote address to mark the listing of local health informatics company Alcidion on the ASX yesterday, whose “leading product, called Miya” – the one snubbed by SA Health – was “creating a great deal of interest”.
“This innovative technology was the key reason for Alcidion receiving the 2015 Impact Award,” Weatherill said.
Last year, Alcidion co-founder and former head of the Health Commission (now called SA Health) Ray Blight told InDaily he had pitched Miya to the department, whose senior staff conceded the merits of the technology but suggested EPAS would eventually have the same capabilities.
He said the technology was a relatively inexpensive method to speed up doctors’ access to patient information within EPAS itself, as well as from other e-health systems.
However, SA Health told InDaily at the time that “the eHealth systems SA Health has invested in will already meet the business need covered by Mr Blight’s proposal”.
Doctors at several hospitals have repeatedly raised concerns about EPAS, including that it is too slow to use safely in emergencies and that it caused threats to patient safety.
According to a 2014 Auditor-General’s report, more than 4,800 separate defects had been detected with EPAS since the program began.
Weatherill told an audience at the Science Exchange in the city yesterday that Miya “brings together an enormous amount of data that clinicians are deluged with on a daily basis”.
“It’s being used in hospitals across Australia and New Zealand, and there’s a possibility it will be trialled here in South Australia soon.”
Weatherill said that Blight had an ambition to establish a “health informatics cluster” in South Australia, and “that is something that we’re very keen to explore with you”.
Blight told InDaily this morning it was the company’s ambition to work with SA Health in the future.
He had pitched the notion of a fast-growing health informatics industry for South Australia to the Department of Premier and Cabinet, and that that had “resonated with the Premier”.
Blight said the state’s position as a health research world leader meant it had natural advantages for the growth of a sophisticated local e-health industry.
Describing the Miya software, Weatherill told the audience yesterday that “the program is able to extract, from that data, information on a particular patient”.
“It collates it and presents it, in a way that helps the clinician understand a patient’s risk factors and then makes the best possible decisions about the person’s care and treatment,” he said.
“Given the use of medical data is only likely to rise, and doctors will see a higher proportion of complex patient cases, this kind of software is definitely a thing of the future.
“The increasing prevalence of chronic and life-style related diseases mean that hospitals need to use more sophisticated methods, and take greater advantage of big data analytics.
“This presents major management challenges for hospital systems including our own, but it also creates opportunities for Adelaide-based companies to develop products that meet those challenges.”
“The government … is determined to foster a thriving health industry in this state.”
The 2014 Auditor-General’s report also revealed SA Health was drawing up contingency plans, in case EPAS was not ready to function when the new Royal Adelaide Hospital opens – due late this year.
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