WA Health drags heels on IT system development

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WA Health drags heels on IT system development

Hospital eyes contingency funding source.

WA Health has come under fire from the auditor-general over delays designing IT systems for the $1.76 billion Fiona Stanley Hospital, currently under construction.

The 643-bed tertiary hospital, due to open in May 2014, could be forced to source interim IT kit from other funding sources -leading to an increase in the project's IT costs.

Funding for most of the hospital's IT systems, including the patient administration system, data and networking equipment, voice communications and medical and entertainment systems was supposed to have been met by WA Health.

The hospital is planned to be ‘paperless' - with everything from admission forms to patient meal orders placed electronically.

But a ‘health check' on the project by the state's auditor-general [PDF] has revealed the Department is behind schedule on key IT systems, raising concerns these systems won't be ready in time for the facility's opening.

"WA Health is not on schedule to deliver the patient administration system or [the hospital's] paperless records system," the auditor-general said.

"As late as April 2010, WA Health had not appointed a project team or allocated funding for the [hospital] project."

Design processes for the patient administration system were behind schedule, "having been planned for rollout and piloting in November 2010."

"To date only a portion of the licences required for the new software have been purchased," the auditor-general said.

"If the delays continue there is a risk of Fiona Stanley Hospital being the first test site for the new system.

"This could result in the system not being fully operational on opening."

The auditor-general said the hospital had a "contingency strategy" to fund some of its IT purchases out of a facilities management contract "if WA Health cannot deliver on time."

But it wasn't a perfect solution.

"This could result in an overall increase in the cost of ICT for [the hospital] as interim solutions are funded under the [hospital's] facilities management contract, while development of the final systems continues to be funded through WA Health," the auditor-general said.

Fiona Stanley Hospital is one of the biggest building projects ever undertaken by the Western Australian Government.

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