Clinical ICT Systems in the Victorian Public Health Sector (13.11.2013)

Written on the 14 November 2013

Ms CROZIER (Southern Metropolitan) -- I am pleased to speak on the Victorian Auditor-General's report into clinical ICT systems in the Victorian public health sector, dated October 2013.

This is an interesting report because it highlights some of the issues our government is dealing with in undertaking extensive overviews of what has occurred over the past decade or so. This report highlights one of the IT projects that was implemented extremely badly and poorly managed under the previous government.

The Auditor-General says:

This audit found that poor planning and an inadequate understanding of the complex requirements to design and implement clinical ICT systems has meant that the Department of Health exhausted its allocated funds, and ultimately delivered the HealthSMART clinical ICT system to only four health services.

We are talking about significant amounts of money when this was commissioned. In 2003 the then government committed $323 million to the HealthSMART program, which was supposed to be delivered to 19 health services and concluded by 2007. That did not happen. The then government severely underestimated a range of issues that are incredibly important. I note that an audit of the HealthSMART program was done in 2008, and at that time there were many areas identified for improvement that the department needed to action.

We are talking about an extraordinary amount of money. Back in 2003, $323 million had a greater value than $323 million has today. Nevertheless it is still a significant amount of money in today's terms, especially as we are trying to find every cent we can to deliver necessary services in our state, especially in the area of health services delivery. This is extremely disappointing, and it goes to the heart of what the former government did. It botched everything in relation to projects.

There is a whole list of them, as we know, but I want to talk about this particular botched system. Under the heading 'Poor planning and implementation', the report says:

The HealthSMART clinical ICT system rollout has been a poor example of public sector leadership of government-funded transformative technology projects. In planning and implementing the system rollout, DH has not demonstrated:

- an auditable trail of authorisation by government of key changes in the program's scope and direction;

- effective financial monitoring and oversight practices;

- appropriate attention and action in relation to previous review recommendations;

- effective governance and contract monitoring to ensure vendors performance.

One element this government is particularly focused on is enabling appropriate contracts with appropriate management and appropriate oversight. Vendor performance is critical, and anybody who understands how the private sector works and the critical elements of every dollar that goes into various projects understands that vendor management and contractual obligations are vitally important to the delivery of projects.

This report demonstrates how inept and out of depth the former government was in relation to managing projects. When you add up all the failed projects, particularly around ICT, the cost is in excess of $1 billion. That is a significant amount of money that could have gone into better health services and the better delivery of health care in 2013.

We are fixing those mistakes, picking up the pieces and giving hospitals and health services greater choice about their IT systems, and I commend the Minister for Health for enabling health services to have the authority to conduct what they would like to do.


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