ACT Govt deploying digital health records


By Dylan Bushell-Embling
Tuesday, 28 July, 2020



ACT Govt deploying digital health records

The ACT Government has contracted software company Epic to implement a new digital health record system across the territory’s public health services.

The new system will be deployed in ACT public hospitals, community health centres and nurse-led walk-in centres.

Minister for Health Rachel Stephen-Smith said the new system is expected to create 100 new jobs for Canberra residents and provide healthcare workers with improved access to patient information.

“We are another step closer to transforming our public health system by building modern and sustainable technologies that will provide the best possible working environment for our healthcare staff,” she said.

“The new Digital Health Record will for the first time deliver a health record that follows the person through their entire journey within the public health system, from referral to discharge and into the community.”

She said the COVID-19 pandemic has made it clear how important it is for health professionals to be able to access accurate and timely information about patients.

“A digital health record will improve the flow of information throughout our public health system. Having critical details about patients readily available will help inform clinical decisions quickly and efficiently.”

The Epic system is already in use at the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne and will be expanded to the Royal Melbourne Hospital, Royal Women’s Hospital and Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in the next few months.

ACT Health CIO Peter O’Halloran said hospitals like this that have adopted the system have reported safety and quality benefits including reduced mortality rates, reduced medication errors and an increase in staff and patient satisfaction.

“It will also support us to implement new ways of caring for our community, with a patient portal, telehealth capabilities and artificial intelligence opportunities,” O'Halloran said.

“This technology will enable patient records to be updated in real time, equipping our health professionals with all the information they require to provide exceptional care, no matter their location or specialty.”

The ACT Government has committed $151 million towards the implementation of the Digital Health Record program, including $106 million in capital and $45 million in recurrent funding over eight years. The contract with Epic itself has a 10-year term and a total value of $114.8 million.

Configuration of the new record system will begin in early 2021 and it is expected to be operational in 2022–23.

The Health Care Consumers’ Association has welcomed the announcement. Executive Director Darlene Cox said the association plans to continue to work with ACT Health on the design and configuration of the new system to ensure it meets the needs of both clinicians and consumers.

“A common experience of consumers is the frustration of having to repeat key information about themselves, their medical history and current medications to multiple clinicians,” she said.

“This investment will see the implementation of a system that will mean care is safer, better connected and more focused on consumer-centred care.”

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/metamorworks

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