Facts about our new electronic health record

"Having a mobile PC on the ward means I can look at the x-rays, the blood results whilst on the ward round."
  • - Associate Professor Craig Whitehead, Senior Visiting Specialist, Division of Medicine, Cardiac and Critical Care, Flinders Medical Centre

Below are some key facts about SA Health’s new patient electronic health record, EPAS.

Does EPAS actually work?

Fact: Since the first site Fact: Since the first site went live with EPAS in 2013:

  • More than 22,000 SA Health, students and agency staff have been trained in the EPAS administrative and clinical functionality and over 2000 staff use the system on a daily basis.
  • More than 460,000 South Australians now have an SA Health electronic health record.
  • More than 57,600 patients attended multiple live EPAS sites.
  • More than 7.7 million clinical documents have been created in EPAS (including referral notes, discharge summaries, etc.).
  • More than 1.9 million inpatient, outpatient and emergency department visits have been registered in EPAS.
  • More than 2.8 million medication orders have been placed in EPAS.
  • More than 3.1 million Pathology and Medical Imaging orders have been placed in EPAS.

*Note: data from April 2018

Does EPAS endanger patients?

Fact: Prior to EPAS, patient records were handwritten and often difficult to read, leading to potential errors through misinterpretation of illegible handwriting and poorer patient care. This problem has been significantly lessened because everything is now documented electronically.

There have also been significant improvements in safety regarding medication ordering in the patient electronic record system, compared to using a paper-based system. Patients are more likely to get the correct medication and dosage at the right time, and due to a built-in alert system, there have been fewer instances of patients suffering an allergic reaction to medication.

Are there processes in place for when EPAS goes offline?

Fact: When there is a service interruption to EPAS or ‘downtime’, sites and clinical services have a Business Continuity Plan for delivering their most critical services until the system is restored. This approach is in accordance with world’s best practice for any business utilising an ICT system to support delivery of its core services.

At no time should patients be adversely impacted if EPAS is down for a period of time. Clinicians and nurses will continue to support their patients and make clinical decisions as per using a paper record.

All staff who are trained in EPAS are also offered training in Business Continuity Planning for managing a downtime event.

Have there been any benefits to implementing EPAS?

Fact: Since EPAS has been rolled out there have been significant benefits for both patients and staff at EPAS activated sites:

    • Patients are receiving greater continuity of care because patient information across EPAS sites has enabled timely access to patient information that would have previously been held at an individual site in a paper record.
    • With EPAS, multiple users can access a patient record simultaneously, saving clinicians’ time in searching and retrieving paper based records.
    • Patients are more likely to get the correct medication and dosage at the right time, and due to a built-in alert system, there have been fewer instances of patients suffering an allergic reaction to medication.
    • Medication prescription and administration error rates are substantially reduced at hospitals and health services using EPAS, compared to when these sites were using a paper record.
    • SA Ambulance Headquarters, SA Ambulance Service, MedSTAR and Mental Health Triage staff can view patients’ medical records at the front line of care.
    • Patient data is captured in more detail and with more proficiency, reducing the need for patients to constantly repeat their medical history and details to staff.
    • The timeliness and quality of letters to General Practitioners has improved since the rollout of EPAS.

EPAS improves medication safety infographic thumbnail
EPAS improves medication safety (PDF 86KB)

Is EPAS secure and can my private details can be accessed by any staff member?

Fact: Yes. Only authorised staff can access patient records in EPAS specific to their role and scope of practice, and the confidentiality requirements under which they are employed. 

Individual logins also provide the means to track staffs’ documentation against the patient record and provide a greater level of transparency, and clear audit trial, than the current paper medical record.

SA Health also regularly monitors the security of its electronic systems, including EPAS. This includes antivirus and malware software, firewalls between EPAS applications, and regular scans for vulnerabilities. EPAS applications cannot be accessed directly from outside the SA Health network. Therefore, it is unlikely that EPAS would be hacked by an external source.

EPAS improves patient privacy infographic thumbnail
EPAS improves patient privacy (PDF 150KB)

Can I get a copy of my own medical record now that it’s all digital?

Fact: As with paper records, patients can request a printed copy of their EPAS medical record by sending a request to the Freedom of Information Officer at the treating hospital.

Is EPAS dangerous?

Fact: EPAS actually reduces the number of errors that occur in a paper-based system by providing built-in alerts about medication and allergies, replacing difficult-to-read handwritten clinical notes, and improving the accuracy of patient records. 

Staffs’ roles and responsibilities also do not change as a result of EPAS.
As per the paper-based process, it is the responsibility of staff to review notes and ensure data is entered correctly into EPAS. 

There have also been improvements in the standardisation of workflows and adoption of enterprise-wide practices at SA Health sites currently using EPAS, making the delivery of health care more streamlined and consistent across sites.

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