Tuesday, March 01, 2016

When The ABC Is Reporting HealthIT In WA Is A Mess Things Must Be Pretty Grim.

When this appeared last week I suspect most of us thought all the bad news was out. We have this:

WA Health avoids IT corruption inquiry, for now

But premier warns it could still eventuate.

By Allie Coyne
Feb 23 2016 11:47AM
The WA Corruption and Crime Commission has opted not to investigate the state health department's botched multi-million dollar IT contract with Fujitsu, but the state's premier has warned the department could still end up in front of the anti-corruption watchdog.
A damning report released last week by the WA auditor-general found the four-year, $45 million centralised computing contract had blown out by $81.4 million thanks to weaknesses in oversight and controls.
The audit office found the contract had been varied 79 times since its 2010 signing, with the department acquiring extra data centre equipment that it was unlikely to use.
Around half of the $81.4 million in contract extensions were made by staff that weren't authorised to make such decisions. The employees have since been sacked.
At the time of the report's release, WA health minister Kim Hames said the case had been referred to the Corruption and Crime Commission.
In the days following, the anti-corruption watchdog said it welcomed the audit report but would not undertake a separate investigation into the matter.
It said while the report highlighted "serious failings" in Health's systems, there was no evidence to suggest serious midconduct by individual employees had occurred.
Lots more here:
And for more browse here:


But no! On Sunday this little ripper on an equally messy issue popped up from the ABC.

Warnings about problem-plagued digitisation of WA hospitals 'ignored', technology experts say

By the National Reporting Team's Courtney Bembridge
February 28, 2016
Technology experts say a plan to digitise hospitals was destined to fall short, and their warnings were ignored.

Key points:

  • Experts say problems should have been picked up sooner
  • Funds for multi-million dollar IT contract mismanaged
  • Fears IT problems could derail the Perth Children's Hospital project
With pockets full from the mining boom, Western Australia sunk billions of dollars into the introduction of "new hospital IT" — trying to bring hospitals into the 21st century and make paper records disappear.
Instead, implementing the new technology has been costly and plagued with problems.
It has caused lengthy delays at one major hospital, while systems have been shelved at another hospital because technical glitches posed an unacceptable risk to patients.
Curtin University researcher Shirlee-ann Knight has authored academic papers on health information technology.
She said the complexity of the health system was underestimated and IT systems were never going to live up to expectations.
"A one-size-fits-all approach, which is the way we've taken it, in my view just won't work in a hospital environment," Dr Knight said.
"It's inevitable that this would happen and it's inevitable it will happen again."
Do you know more about this story? Email investigations@abc.net.au
The problems first became apparent at the $2 billion Fiona Stanley Hospital, where technology was supposed to replace paper records.
The plan was abandoned, but not before the opening of the hospital was delayed by more than six months and a committee found the cost had blown out by $330 million.
Dr Knight said she raised concerns in the years before the hospital opened, but they fell on deaf ears.
"I think it's far more complex than what the people who were in positions of power in 2009, 2010 and 2011 actually believed," she said.
Problems have also been identified at the newly opened St John of God Midland Public Hospital.
The technology allowing health systems to share information with one another was found to be seriously flawed and could not be implemented.
The extent of the problem was outlined in an internal memo from October 2015, a month before the hospital opened.
It found that when Midland Hospital tried to update patient notes, it would override or delete existing patient information.
"Due to the incomplete data being sent by St John of God Midland Public Hospital which 'overwrites' the existing Department of Health data, an extreme clinical risk presented whereby public patient data, including alerts and allergies for each patient... would be inaccurate and not up to date."
IT experts are still working to fix the problem and the system is not expected to go live until later this year.
Much more disturbing detail here!
This quote from the Premier is just astonishing!
“Premier Colin Barnett conceded the plan to go paperless was too ambitious, and mistakes were made.
"Government has been notoriously bad at handling ICT contracts ... it has been one problem after another going on for several years," he said last week.
"The whole area of so-called eHealth which has been talked about for the last 10 or 15 years across Australia has got lots of these stories.
"We're not alone, and it's not an excuse, but we're not alone in this and other major hospitals and health systems have had the same difficulties."
This just confirms the poll of last week. Clearly a party in a brewery is way beyond out health IT bureaucrats!
Wanders off wondering how this can be fixed with head shaking sadly!


Anonymous said...

Warnings about problem-plagued digitisation of WA hospitals 'ignored', technology experts say

What, ignoring experts? No. Never. Can't believe it. Must be a mistake. Or maybe it could be the Cardinal Pell defence - nobody told me. In either case it's appalling. Heads should roll.

Anonymous said...

Paraphrasing from the above article we have My Health Record, PCEHR, NEHTA and the Department of (e)Health all wrapped up into one GREAT BIG PARCEL ----
---- Dr Knight said:
1. "the complexity of the health system was underestimated",
2. "IT systems were never going to live up to expectations"
3. "A one-size-fits-all approach, which is the way we've taken it, in my view just won't work"
4. "It's inevitable that this would happen" and
5. "it's inevitable it will happen again."

Billions wasted once again and (wait for it) the Government says WE HAVE TO STOP SPENDING!! OMG.

Trevor3130 said...

Now cross to the Federal Minister. She has to make savings in Health. Martin Bowles has provided her with a range of estimates for the E-Health line in the Budget. Then this arrives from WA, helpful words from a friendly Premier. Manna from heaven! Now is your chance, Ms Ley, though "cutting the losses" will make her a very lonely Little Brown Hen. Unless ...

Bernard Robertson-Dunn said...

Good health largely comes from:

a) Clean water and sewage disposal (that's easy, engineers have been doing it for years)

b) Good eating habits and exercise/activity. That's much harder.

Good eating habits come from education. According to Dr Michael Mosely on ABC radio the other day, in the UK doctors receive no training/education in nutrition. That may well be the case in Australia. Even if doctors do study nutrition here, it wouldn't hurt to have a serious program of education in current, up-to-date research for medicos

The government could also

a) teach children in school about nutrition and exercise.
b) take on the vested interests in food and big pharma.
c) stop expenditure growth on technology. This will force the health profession to set priorities and improve efficiencies. If they want new technology, they will have to stop spending on old technology, and/or make savings in other areas such as unnecessary and out-of date tests and treatments.

Looking at shiny new technology for answers is simplistic. Avoidance of a problem is the cheapest and best way to go.

Anonymous said...

Ms Ley won't cut her healthIT spending because hasn't got any idea how to explain the current humongous wastage of failed eHealth projects. The doctors won't help her understand because they haven't been able to ever since NEHTA was born. And anyway if she keeps kicking the can down the road it will eventually become someone else's problem. So eHealth expenditure won't be cut Martin Bowles and his eHealth advisers will see to that.

Anonymous said...

Two things might happen.

1. Someone dies as a result of using the system
2. Once the public really get wind of what the government is doing, they react as they have in the past. Then it becomes a full on political problem.

Trevor3130 said...

Bernard, thanks for the reminder about Michael Mosely. From his gig with SBS Insight last night, it sounds like the prime motivator for him to tackle his insulin resistance was the ultrasound scan that quantified his intraabdominal fat.
Now, do you remember DoHA mailing out paper measuring tapes a few years ago? The aim of the project to to get those with waists over 90cm (IIRC) to seek medical advice.
The interventions that Mosely (and our own Paul Zimmet and plenty of others) recommend are so simple as to be almost banal. So, what about our parliamentarians volunteer to measure their bellies and those who are over the mark have their u/s scans done (at Health's expense), and make them public (de-identified, of course)?
I can think of a couple of Labor MPs who could do the 8 weeks of calorie restriction to their great benefit, and increasing the odds of them seeing their grandchildren married.

Anonymous said...

"I can think of a couple of Labor MPs who could do the 8 weeks of calorie restriction to their great benefit, and increasing the odds of them seeing their grandchildren married. "
Oh why encourage them to do that? The sooner they pass away, the less money wasted on their undeserved, over-bloated parliamentary pensions!!!