SA Ambulance puts call out to develop state’s first electronic Patient Care Record system

South Australia Patient Records System

The South Australian Government is seeking industry support to help implement the state’s first electronic Patient Care Record (ePCR) system, enabling South Australia Ambulance Service (SAAS) clinicians to capture patient care details digitally, and immediately feed this data to external treatment facilities.

The SAAS still relies on physical case cards to record patient care, observation and treatment details – the last jurisdiction in Australia to maintain a pen and paper patient records system for its ambulance service.

In a request for tender, the SAAS said that the implementation of an ePCR system would equip clinicians with tools to better inform and support their front-line duties.

“The patient care record will provide a tool to create an accurate clinical record of events and effectively portray the patient’s clinical course from presentation to handover.”

As part of the stipulations of the tender, the record must be made available to all treating SAAS clinicians, both in real-time at the point of care or operating remotely, and support the safe and effective handover of care to other practitioners.

SAAS said it expects the ePCR “to improve information sharing across the health system and enable efficiencies that will help drive the continuous improvement in patient outcomes”.

“Combined with the pre-populated emergency and patient data, observation information will generate intuitive visual cues and against preconfigured parameters and thresholds to advise on abnormal physiological readings to guide escalation of care decisions.”

“By digitally recording clinical treatments, assessments, the interventions applied, escalations pursued, and transportation or alternative pathway plans a personal care summary can be easily generated for the patient to further empower consumers to take greater control over their care.”

Among the key requirements of the electronic Patient Care Record system, which must provide access for 700 concurrent users and 3,200 total users, include the ability to store previous patient details and a search function for these patients in an external database (an EMPI), the automated creation of patient care records from computer-aided dispatch (SACAD) system messages, and the ability to capture patient observations and generate automated threshold alerts, as well as the capture of assessments, treatments, and actions.

The ePCR must also be equipped to issue medical records to external entities, such as a receiving hospital (using the Sunrise EMR system), the police and the coroner’s office, and be able to operate ‘off network’ for rural and remote areas.

The supply of smart devices for remote staff operating the ePCR system may also be included in the contract; SAAS said it may opt to purchase devices either through this procurement process or alternative arrangements, depending on compatibility with the ePCR system.

This includes the provision of 480 rugged laptops and the supply of 3,000 smartphones and tablets for personal issue.

The contract, which will commence in December this year, is expected to be awarded in October.

Implementation timeframes for the ePCR solution are estimated to take between 18-24 months from contract execution.

Applications for the tender must be submitted by 7 March.