Cairns Hospital electronic costs double to $4.2m
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.