Queensland Health believes it has done enough to stabilise the state’s “mission critical” patient administration system until 2019, meaning the platform could reach its 30th year in operation before it is replaced.
A report released by Queensland Parliament’s health and community services committee late last week revealed the state’s health department will in January submit a business case for the replacement of its Hospital Based Corporate Information System (HBCIS), in order to secure funding for the project to kick off works in the current financial year.
HCBIS – pronounced ‘hibiscus’ by health workers – is considered to be the most important system running across the Queensland health system.
It has been used by the state since 1991. The department has estimated that replacing HCBIS will cost up to $440 million and take seven years.
HCBIS vendor iSoft will end support for the product in December 2015.
Queensland Health told the committee a remediation program launched 2013 had seen the 13 distributed hardware platforms supporting HBCIS consolidated and replaced with modern equipment and a new backend database.
“There have been no reported HBCIS performance issues or hardware failures since the upgrade,” Health director general Ian Maynard told the committee.
In combination with extended support until 2023 and the acquisition of the system’s source code, the department said it was confident it could rely on the system to remain stable until 2019.
This will give the department between four and eight years to finish what has been projected to be a seven year job.
The health department had originally planned to get the HCBIS business case up in January 2014, but was delayed by the release of Queensland’s ten-year health ICT plan as well as ongoing negotiations with iSoft.
But the committee reported that it was concerned about the “significant risk” posed by the unavoidable system replacement.
It highlighted the project's potential cost to the state and risk to interoperability that could arise out of the department’s policy of handing authority for IT decision-making to the state’s 17 hospital and health services.
It recommended that a future committee resume ongoing scrutiny of the replacement’s progress in 2016, once the state’s Auditor-General hands down a report into patient administration systems across Queensland.