E-Health Problems in Victoria Australia

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Earlier this week, the newspaper The Australian reported that the Victorian government is going to revisit its 2009-2013 strategy for introducing electronic health records to the Victoria's health care facilities.

The Victorian government has decided to allocate A$104 million more for its HealthSmart efforts for 2008-2009, but has also begun consultations over a new ICT strategy for 2009-2013, the paper says.

Included in these consultation will be to find a new person to lead the effort, as well. In September, Fiona Wilson, who headed the HealthSmart effort since 2003, resigned from the Office of Health Information Systems for personal reasons.

According to the paper, the government's HealthSmart IT program was begun in 2003 with the purpose of refreshing and rebuilding the information and communication infrastructure systems in public hospitals, rural alliances and community health providers across Victoria. The original projected cost of the effort was A$323 million and the completion date was June 2007.

However, in April, the paper notes,"Victoria's auditor-general Des Pearson said HealthSmart had been overly ambitious in its targets, and was at least two years behind schedule. More than half of the original budget had been spent with only 24 per cent of the planned installations complete."

Current cost estimates place the effort at A$427 million, and none of the foundational Cerner electronic health record systems are yet working at any of the state's hospitals. Costs for using the Cerner EHR system have also jumped from A$79 million to A$96 million.

When HealthSmart will be completed is likely to be one of the major issues to be determined in the upcoming strategy review.

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