Pulse+IT can safely say that there’s not been a story in eHealth in Australia or New Zealand in the last 10 years that rivals the impact of this week’s announcement that NSW Health will go ahead with what have been lingering rumours over the last year and rip out its complex, hugely expensive but very much functional Cerner-based electronic medical record and replace it with Epic.
There are a few other systems being replaced too: Orion Health’s EMR instance in Hunter New England, the long-standing iPM patient administration system instances, and four or five equally long-standing laboratory information systems. A single system replacement was known to be on the cards for NSW Health Pathology, but the decision to go all in with Epic for the EMR and PAS still came as a bit of a surprise.
You can read about the decision and its ramifications here, here and here, and there are still some questions to be answered on what exactly those extra clinical systems that are in scope to be replaced involve. They could very well involve the two different electronic medication management systems – both incredibly complex and long-term projects to implement – and even the MetaVision ICU system is on the cards, we hear.
We’ve done a lot of ringing around this week and the consensus appears to be that the decision is bold, the project will be incredibly difficult over the next six or so years, and it will be incredibly expensive. eHealth NSW says funding has been secured, but the $141 million allocated last year is probably only enough to get Hunter New England off the ground. Where the rest of the money is coming from we don’t know. No offence to Newcastle but the Sydney metro hospitals are of a much greater magnitude and are going to require a hell of a lot more money.
The NSW Health announcement did take the wind out of ACT Health’s sails a little bit, which is unfortunate. The ACT seems to have managed what the Melbourne Epic implementations have and pulled off a big-bang go live with only the usual teething problems to complain about. One of our readers said there are still adjustments needed to the system, which they described as very complex. The reader was also a bit critical that there wasn’t really enough training for clinicians, and there may have been a bit too much emphasis on branding and signage on water bottles and laptop bags and not enough on support staff.
Otherwise, the feedback has all been good. The idea of opening the system up to GPs was also welcomed, and ACT Health and Parkville are now providing a model for not just Hunter New England but for a certain other state that we suspect wants to adopt the Australian model for Epic. But as to the extent and complexity of rolling out this enormous system to the whole of NSW Health, which has 220 hospitals, 120,000 full time staff and eight million patients to care for … there may not be enough popcorn on the planet.
That brings us to our poll question for the week:
Is NSW Health’s move to replace Cerner with Epic a good decision?
Vote here or comment below.
Last week we asked: Do you have confidence that ADHA’s infrastructure modernisation project is on the right track?
We have to say this poll received the fewest votes in the history of our opinion polls. Nonetheless, most respondents said yes: 61.5 per cent v 38.5 per cent against.
We also asked that if you voted no, could you provide practical advice as to why? Here’s what you said.