- by: Karen Dearne
- From: The Australian
- September 27, 2011
Wednesday, October 05, 2011
It Does Not Seem The Concern About What Is Going On Inside Queensland Health Is Going Away.
The following appeared a few days ago:
QUEENSLAND Health has defended its procurement of a $182 million e-medical records (eMR) system for state hospitals amid claims of bias towards the market leader, Cerner.
Opposition health spokesman Mark McArdle has obtained 3120 pages of emails, strategies, plans and minutes generated about the eMR tender between June 2009 and April this year under state Right To Information laws.
Another 942 pages were not released due to being either "cabinet or commercial in confidence".
Mr McArdle claims the documents show senior departmental officers asked research firm Gartner to make changes to its independent report on a market scanning exercise in 2009.
He has asked the Queensland Auditor-General to "conduct a full audit of the health IT program to ensure future patient care is not placed at risk and taxpayers' funds are not wasted".
Mr McArdle is concerned that the process may have unfairly prevented potential competitors from bidding.
Additionally we had this well researched contribution a day later
Research firm Gartner has stepped in to defend a report at the centre of allegations Queensland Health was biased in choosing a provider for its $182 million state-wide electronic medical record.
Senior departmental staff were alleged to have requested changes from the authors of a 2009 Gartner report to favour e-health provider Cerner over other bidders for the project.
Confidential emails between Queensland Health chief information officer Ray Brown, senior e-health director Tam Shepherd and staff were obtained and published by shadow health minister Mark McArdle under state Right to Information laws last week.
The emails [pdf] revealed that Graham Bretag of the department's e-health contract and vendor management e-health division had asked Gartner to alter a column denoting Cerner as the only company having a "generation three" computer-based patient record (CPR) installation in Australia.
Bretag had also asked for "unambiguous clarification" that rival bidders Lorenzo and i.CM did not having the same level of installation locally.
Gartner's report highlighted a total of five bidders with installations in Australia at differing "generations" of capability.
The authors had agreed to make the changes, according to the emails.
However, Gartner's Asia Pacific head of research Ian Bertram told iTnews the changes were part of the usual fact-checking process undertaken by the research firm during authoring of the report.
The changes did not change the recommendations or conclusions of the report, he said.
"In this case it was just a fact clarification, having a look at the exact same data but just calling out more explicity which CPR gen 3 was installed in Australia," he said.
Gartner had approached all potential bidders for the project, as well as the department, to partake in the process.
"There was a raft of different recommendations that we came to," Bertram said.
"We never, in our engagement, said there was one clear winner. That's not what we were engaged to do, we were engaged to help put together selection criteria to help them go out and find a [winner]."
Bertram said the change was absolutely factual and did not place Cerner in a more favourable light.
As a "generation three" install, Cerner systems were shown to have integrated pharmaceutical functionality and cover both ambulatory and acute care settings.
Gartner's framework used a scale of five generations, with each level delineated by certain minimum requirements.
Queensland Health chief information officer Brown denied any wrongdoing on the behalf of departmental staff.
"Independent probity experts, governance experts and lawyers reviewed the process adopted by Queensland Health, raised no concerns with actions taken, and confirmed the process was appropriate," he said.
The probity report had found procurement processes were consistent and "undertaken with attention to transparency and fair dealing".
Brown said the probity adviser had found there was "no reason to believe Cerner has been treated with undue bias in any of the procurement processes, communications or stages".
iTnews was denied access to the report by Queensland Health.
The department also confirmed that Shephard resigned from his position last week, as initial allegations against the procurement processes were first made.
Shepherd would take on a chief executive role in the primary health sector.
Now after my original post on the matter (see here):
we have had a voice from north of the Tweed be in touch. A few extra points were made:
First I was told that the last post in the comments of the previous blog was very close to the full truth.
This is nothing of a surprise - Cerner have been trying to get into Q'health for at least 5 years. Their ploy was always to use their Radiology contract at PA Hospital as the way in and avoid a public tender. They have a real strong supporter in a well-known doctor at PA who wanted the Cerner solution prior to Trak Health. Truth is it will fail - there is no way Cerner can deliver a solution to Q'Health and replace so many inbedded departmental solutions that are state wide. Whilst this is clearly a 'back-door' deal it will flop. And as a foot note, if any government thinks that spending $180M plus without the need for a market tender is OK - they too will fall. Problem is, will Cerner get ink on the contract before the election ?
Additional points were also made:
1. Initially QH had hoped to purchase Cerner via the NSW Period Contract. This would remove the need for tendering and keep all above board. This plan was apparently referred to internally as Project Mango.
2. About 2 years ago it was realised this would not work and so a selective procurement was planned based on having a consultant provide a market report.
3. This ‘process’ led to Cerner being selected but there was a distinct lack of a requirements statement on which a contract for delivery could be properly framed - such a requirements document having (apparently) never been developed.
4. The situation is now that negotiations for a contract are going on with no real clarity as to what is being actually procured - which is pretty risky and was concerning the voice from the North greatly.
The reader will see the Anon comment and my informant match up quite nicely so it is possible that a. It is true, b. the source is the same person or some other possibility - such as evil intent etc.
Whatever I suspect there will be more to come on this and that the Qld Opposition won’t let it go. We await the next episode!
Posted by Dr David G More MB PhD at Wednesday, October 05, 2011