The Queensland government will provide another $300 million over the next five years for the continued rollout of integrated electronic medical record (ieMR) functionality.
Budget papers released on Tuesday reveal $240 million for the ‘digital hospital electronic medical record system’ over the forward estimates, with a further $60 million to be provided in 2026-27.
Queensland Health first received funding of $412 million for the ieMR in 2011, but by 2016 it was estimated the project would cost $1.2 billion to complete.
In December 2018, a damning audit revealed another $250 million would be needed to complete the ieMR, pushing the project more than 40 percent over budget.
“The program is now at a critical junction because it cannot complete implementation in the remaining 12 hospitals without more funding,” the audit said at the time.
In mid-2019, the agency suspended the rollout to “allow time for existing ieMR sites to fully realise... benefits”, according to former health minister Stephen Miles.
At that time, the ieMR had gone live at 16 hospitals, 14 with advanced functionality and two – Cairns Hospital and Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital – with basic or intermediate functionality.
It is unclear if this has changed in the two years since, with the current status of the project unknown.
The last update on the state’s digital projects dashboard – which describes the project as ‘on track’ – was in August 2020, coinciding with a six-month freeze on new IT projects.
The government had wanted 27 hospitals – or 80 percent of public hospital beds – to have fully implemented the ieMR by March 2021.
Digital courts, prision systems
The budget also provides additional funding of $126.9 million over five years to digitise Queensland Courts and the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal.
The funding is part of a larger $246.8 million package to be provided to the Department of Justice and Attorney-General to deliver a “justice system underpinned by contemporary technologies”.
Queensland Corrective Services (QCS) will also receive an $30.4 million over the next two years, including $16.3 million in capital, to replace its integrated offender management system (IOMS).
The agency was told to replace the case management system in December 2018 after the state’s corruption watchdog found that some corrections officers were using it to extort prisoners.
Following the finding, QCS said it was planning to replace the system with a digital offender management environment (DOME).
Other new funding in the budget:
- $16.7 million over the next four years for Queensland Police to continue the operation of body worn video cameras, with a further $5.3 million to be provided each year from 2026-27
- $16.2 million, including $6.9 million in capital, for Queensland Health to develop an ICT solution to support the Voluntary Assisted Dying Scheme
- $12.8 million for the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services to modernise the Queensland Emergency Operation Centre’s critical ICT infrastructure over the next four years
- $4.9 million over two years to “support several strategic initiatives, including co-investment development of a Queensland digital infrastructure plan and trial of new and emerging technology to improve connectivity in regional and remote Queensland”
- $4 million for the Department of Communities, Housing and Digital Economy to undertake “foundational work so as to shape Queensland’s digital direction”. Only $1 million of this is new funding, with $3 million to be “internally met by the department” over two years
- $1.6 million for Queensland Police to ensure the firearms register is up to date and accurate, and begin a project to replace the weapons licensing management system
- Undisclosed funding from a $74.9 million package for Queensland Corrective Services for body-worn video cameras