The state-of-the-art Fiona Stanley Hospital in Western Australia has at last seen the opening of its Emergency Department, after an opening schedule beset by delays due to complications and cost blow-outs in the delivery of its advanced ICT systems.
The $2 billion 783-bed hospital was originally scheduled to open in April 2014, however, in mid-2013 Health Minister Kim Hames set a revised opening date for October 2014. The project initially suffered cost blowouts that reached $330 million and in the 2014-15 Budget, an additional $40 million was allocated before the hospital was finally opened to the public to Hames’ revised timetable.
The initial planning was ambitious and included 48 custom built core systems, which has since been identified by former WA Under Treasurer, Tim Marney as a key learning from the project.
“What are the lessons learnt? You never build stuff that you can buy off the shelf; you never build bespoke stuff that then has to be integrated with generic products; you change your business processes rather than changing the systems to suit the business processes,” he said.
In June 2013, Minister Hames celebrated the proposed ICT systems for their ability to deliver patient care and convenience by managing administration, patient information, medical records, communications and entertainment through one central facility.
“For doctors and nurses, that means everything they need to know about a patient can be called up bedside on a single screen - patient records, x-rays, scans, medication management and other vital medical information right at their fingertips,” he said.
However, it was the development and roll-out of the hospital’s advanced IT scope, envisioned as a paper-free environment and managed by contractor Serco under agreements worth a total of $4.3 billion, which underlined major issues and resulting delays.
Despite completion, the kinks in its ‘paper-light’ model have yet to be ironed out.
An incident occurred earlier this month when WA Health’s computer system crashed for more than 14 hours. According to the West Australian, the hospital reverted to “downtime procedures” after it lost computer applications (including email) and its IT network. The crash was blamed on an outage originating from WA Health’s Fujitsu-run main data centre, according to the story.
The project has, however, offered some lessons on the delivery of other major projects taking place in the State.
“… [The] approach taken to ICT for Perth Children’s Hospital is taking into consideration the lessons learnt with respect to Fiona Stanley Hospital,” said Marney at the February 2014 Education and Health Standing committee.
“… [The] approach [to the Perth Children’s Hospital] will be to seek to source an off-the-shelf product that can be easily adapted to the new children’s hospital rather than constructing 48 systems from scratch.”
The final phase – heart and lung transplant services – is expected to be complete by March 23 2015.