It\u2019s been a trying few weeks for SA Health CIO Bill Le Blanc. Earlier this month he faced the wrath of medical unions and the scrutiny of the national media after a glitch caused an outage in the health authority\u2019s enterprise patient administration system, EPAS. Two more outages occurred over last weekend. On Tuesday morning page three of Adelaide\u2019s The Advertiser newspaper read \u201cEPAS fails \u2018will be fatal\u2019\u201d. By the afternoon Le Blanc was being grilled live on radio. \u201cI never anticipated when I applied for this job I would have to go on radio, TV, the paper,\u201d he said at the CIO50 awards in Sydney last night. \u201cPeople screaming that IT\u2026is basically going to kill a patient.\u201d Speaking as part of a panel, Le Blanc held aloft the damning newspaper report before defending the EPAS system, which is currently live across seven SA Health services. \u201cI went head to head with the head of the doctor\u2019s union on talkback radio,\u201d Le Blanc said, \u201cand his claim was this system, an incorrect prescription, is going to kill someone. I said well let\u2019s talk about incorrect prescriptions\u2026\u201d Le Blanc, who was appointed to the role of CIO at the end of 2013, hit back at critics of electronic health records referring to hospital safety audits which he said reveal that \u201cin a paper-based world where doctors are writing on script pads\u201d, one in 20 of all prescriptions are incorrect. \u201cIt\u2019s either given to the wrong patient or the wrong dosage or given at the wrong frequency,\u201d he said, adding that 12 per cent of people are discharged with incorrect medication. \u201cWith the kind of systems we're putting in place those hospitals where we have already deployed it\u2026 the prescription error rate dropped from five per cent to 0.03 per cent. One in three thousand,\u201d Le Blanc said. Of last weekend\u2019s outage Le Blanc explained that his team patched a server that EPAS was running on at 1.30am and experienced a five minute outage.Clipboard and pen The EPAS\u2019s first implementation was at Noarlunga Hospital in August 2013. It is now being used by more than 8,000 staff each day at Port Augusta Hospital, Repatriation General Hospital and The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, as well as a number of GP Plus centres and at SA Ambulance headquarters. There will be a phased implementation of the system at the new Royal Adelaide Hospital when it opens, following a number of setbacks.EPAS has been slammed by doctors and nurses unions, and the opposition Liberal government in South Australia who once called it "a case study in incompetence". The overall cost of the project has blown out to $422 million. Despite the criticism, it is part of a much needed digital transformation of the healthcare sector, Le Blanc explained. The data analytics made possible by the transformation will have huge advantages for patient outcomes. \u201cThe way hospitals have delivered services until recently has been the way that they\u2019ve done it since the 1940s. Other industries have leveraged digital technology to change the way they do business, and healthcare has been a little bit slow to do that,\u201d he said. Although healthcare had a rich history of administrative data, medical data was lacking, Le Blanc said. After investing time and money into training doctors, \u201cwe then give them a clipboard and pen, and say here\u2019s your information store. And by the way in terms of the tools you have to analyse that data we give them a big folder full of paper,\u201d Le Blanc added.\u201cWhat big data and analytics is going to bring is an unquestionable evidence base. That gives you an enormous amount of data to actually base your decision making on and a lot of clinicians are crying out for it. They want that information.\u201dEvidence, not opinions Le Blanc said that it was a small minority of \u201chigh profile medicos\u201d that were complaining most loudly about the EPAS glitches and were opposed to the digital transformation of the health authority more generally. \u201cDoctors will tell you that at heart they are scientists. And as scientists they\u2019re people of data and they deal with what we call evidence based medicine\u2026 That\u2019s what they say,\u201d Le Blanc said.\u201cTruth be told, for most of them, the evidence that they\u2019re talking about is based on opinion. A lot of it is not based on evidence. So if you go to two different specialists in the same hospital with the same condition you\u2019re going to get two different recommendations for what is the best treatment for you. \u201c[The digital transformation] is disrupting the business in a major way. Not everyone\u2019s happy about it. Those that have already been practicing for 30 years have been expressing their unhappiness quite strongly.\u201dQuestioned about the biggest challenge of his role, Le Blanc said it was bringing people along on the transformation journey.\u201cI have\nmuch fewer carrots and sticks that I can use. My sticks are not very big and I\nreally don\u2019t have any carrots to get people to move from an \u2018as is\u2019 to a \u2018to be\u2019\nstate\u2026 our businesses would be so much easier if it weren\u2019t for the people,\u201d he\nsaid.