DIG­I­TAL HEADACHE

Cairns Hospi­tal elec­tronic costs dou­ble to $4.2m

The Cairns Post - - FRONT PAGE - DANIEL BATE­MAN

THE cost of a new “e-health’” sys­tem at Cairns Hospi­tal has blown out by more than $2 mil­lion.

A Queens­land Au­dit Of­fice re­port is also crit­i­cal of the fail­ure to mon­i­tor prob­lems with the roll­out of the much ma­ligned pro­gram.

CAIRNS Hospi­tal’s fault­prone e-health pro­gram has run more than $2 mil­lion over bud­get and of­fi­cials have failed to track prob­lems within the sys­tem.

Queens­land’s Au­dit Of­fice has re­leased a re­port on the state’s Dig­i­tal Hospi­tal pro­gram, which was launched at Cairns Hospi­tal in March 2016. The re­port says the ini­tial $2.24 mil­lion bud­get had nearly dou­bled since its roll­out.

“This was mostly be­cause of vari­a­tions to ex­ist­ing con­tracts to pur­chase ad­di­tional per­sonal com­put­ers, lap­tops, ac­ces­sories, and work­sta­tions on wheels,” the re­port says.

“The pro­ject ex­pen­di­ture on de­vices alone ($3.13 mil­lion) well ex­ceeded the pro­ject bud­get (for pro­cure­ment, ex­clud­ing the cost of labour) of $2.24 mil­lion.”

Au­di­tors also found Cairns and Hin­ter­land Hospi­tal and Health Ser­vice had no mech­a­nism in place to mon­i­tor and man­age the “dis­ben­e­fits” of the in­te­grated elec­tronic med­i­cal records (ieMR) pro­gram.

“The Townsville and Cairns hos­pi­tals iden­ti­fied a num­ber of them in their busi­ness cases and other ben­e­fits re­al­i­sa­tion doc­u­ments, but the pro­gram and sites are not re­port­ing or tracking these,” they said.

Since the pro­gram was im­ple­mented, clin­i­cians have com­plained of sys­tem out­ages, los­ing clin­i­cal notes, long de­lays in re­triev­ing pa­tient in­for­ma­tion and am­bu­lance ramp­ing at the emergency depart­ment.

Health work­ers told the Cairns Post yes­ter­day that some com­po­nents of the pro­gram were good, how­ever it was still more dif­fi­cult to carry out work un­der time pres­sure.

Health Min­is­ter Steven Miles said doc­tors and nurses had told him the dig­i­tal sys­tem helped them do their jobs and help pa­tients.

“Like any large sys­tem, there’s of­ten room to learn and im­prove as you go,” he said.

“We will im­ple­ment the re­port rec­om­men­da­tions to en­sure we con­tinue to see pos­i­tive re­sults.”

CHHHS has ruled out Dig­i­tal Hospi­tal con­tribut­ing to its over­all hospi­tal bud­get blowout.

In 2016, the Cairns and Hin­ter­land Hospi­tal and Health Ser­vice had a pre­dicted op­er­at­ing deficit of $80 mil­lion – the largest forecast in Queens­land.

Since then, CHHHS has been able to bring this down to a much more man­age­able $19.6 mil­lion. The health ser­vice did not re­spond when asked why it was not tracking prob­lems with the dig­i­tal hospi­tal pro­gram.

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