Monday, 20 June 2016 11:09

South Australian govt fights to keep using MS-DOS system

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A local government department in South Australia is continuing to use software that runs only on an MS-DOS-based system, even though its licence for the product ran out in March.

The SA health department has been using the Chiron patients record system, which was developed in the 1980s, in several of its rural units.

At that time, the operating system predominantly used on personal computers was MS-DOS, renamed from PC-DOS, and sold by Microsoft.

The department has been the sole user of Chiron since 2008.

A report in Pulse IT said Chiron to have been replaced in the 1990s with a more recent application, Enterprise Patient Administration System, from a company known as Allscripts Healthcare Solutions.

The latter system was to have been used state-wide for electronic medical records and and also as a patient administrative system.

The EPAS system was cut back to being used in hospitals in the metropolitan area of Adelaide and in Port Augusta and hence rural hospitals in the state continued using Chiron, even though its owner Global Health  — formerly known as Working Systems Software  had released an update known as MasterCare ePAS in 2003. This is a Windows-based system.

According to an ABC report, the matter, between the South Australian government and the company that created Chiron is now in court.

The SA government is arguing that if it agrees to stop using Chiron, as demanded by the owner, patients would be at risk.

The company, in turn, says this is the government's fault as it failed to upgrade its systems when asked to in 2003. Court records are said to show that the South Australian government told the company in 2014 that it was looking for a new system.

Global Health says it no longer supports Chiron and, therefore, cannot issue a fresh licence.

The ABC said the matter was listed for trial in December.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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