Possible cost blowouts and delays associated with the rollout of yet another health IT system in South Australia has the state Auditor-General worried.
State Auditor-General Andrew Richardson said delays with the $30 million Enterprise Pathology Laboratory Information System (EPLIS) had the potential to result in a “sub-optimal” solution when it is launched at the new Royal Adelaide Hospital.
There are also warnings of a cost blowout, with “minimal” contingency funds left for the remainder of the project.
“We consider that cost pressures remain to implement a fully functional and operational EPLIS,” he said.
“These cost pressures are further intensified with the new RAH opening delay and the potential impact to the rollout plan.”
EPLIS will allow pathology requests, reports and results to be available electronically.
The Auditor-General’s report states the project’s schedule and estimated completion date has been pushed out.
He cites delays in governance approvals, poor communication between the software vendor and SA Health, and a lack of an integrated approach between SA Health’s IT unit and SA Pathology as problems.
“We note that the recent delay in the new RAH opening will provide additional time for the program to complete all required activities, thus reducing this risk,” he said.
Mr Richardson has also raised concern the procurement of the new laboratory instruments and robotic tracks has not been finalised.
The contingency plan is the continued use of the current Frome Road Laboratories and couriers.
Integration between EPLIS and troubled EPAS systems unknown
The integration between EPLIS and another troubled health IT system, EPAS (Enterprise Patient Administration System) is also yet to happen, which has the Auditor-General worried.
SA Health’s contingency is the continued use of paper forms should electronic pathology ordering not be available at the new RAH.
“SA Health advised that pathology orders from EPAS will be accepted by EPLIS, with results returned electronically,” Mr Richardson said.
“Prior to the recent new RAH opening delay being announced, we noted that the EPAS program originally underestimated the time and effort required to perform all associated development, testing and staff training in readiness for initial operation at the new RAH.”
EPAS is an electronic health record system which has itself been dogged by cost blowouts and its rollout across public hospitals has been delayed.
It is being installed at an increased cost of $422 million.