The Victorian Government’s Metropolitan Health Plan has listed E-Health as one of its seven key priorities for the period to 2022, however the absence of project detail reflects the e-health limbo that the state has found itself in while the troubled HealthSMART project is under review.
The Health Priorities Framework 2012-22: Metropolitan Health Plan released on 3 May set out the Victorian Government’s plan for the development of the metropolitan health system over a ten year period.
“The Health Priorities Framework 2012-22: Metropolitan Health Plan reviews Victoria’s health services, sets out the case for change, and proposes critical directions and priorities to guide detailed planning and development into the future,” said Victorian Health Minister David Davis.
One of the seven new priorities outlined in the Metropolitan Heath Planis the utilisation e-health and communications technology.
“These priorities will help us to create the people-focussed, knowledge-focussed system Victorians deserve, laying out a path to the future,” said Mr Davis
The first objective for the Victorian Government in pursuit of this priority will be comprehensive planning, to “articulate the system requirements and deliverable outcomes that increase clinical time, ensure optimal health information and reduce administrative time for both the patient and system,” says the document.
The report implies that the Victorian Government will be looking to achieve an electronic and telephone health information service for consumers, as well as electronic health records and bedside decision-making support systems.
Notably absent from the health plan is any mention of the embattled HealthSMART project, the $360 million whole-of-health ICT strategy established in 2003 to modernise and replace the Victorian public healthcare sector’s aging ICT systems.
The Victorian Treasury has reported that the HealthSMART project, which was due to be operational as of December 2010, is currently running late and $80 million over budget.
“There have been complications in rolling out the application. The clinical application is currently only partially functional in two health services – Eastern and the Royal Victorian Eye and Ear Hospital,” said the Treasury Report.
“Significant additional funding is required to complete the original scope of the project. In addition, further information and communications technology (ICT) funding may also be required to enable major capital projects that are currently underway to be HealthSMART compatible,” it said.
This includes an estimated $25 million required to make the new Royal Children’s Hospital HealthSMART compatible.
HealthSMART was allocated just $6.7 million in the Victorian Budget handed down on 3 May, a sum carried over from previous years.
Further funding will not be allocated until a review of HealthSMART, alongside several other troubled ICT projects, is undertaken.
“The Victorian Coalition government is determined to put each of these projects on a responsible footing and is investigating the full risk and exposure of each project in order to mitigate further losses of taxpayer funds before progressing with the projects,” Premier Ted Baillieu said in a column written for Fairfax
Further details about the implementation of ICT technologies in the State’s health care sector will be outlined in the Health Capital and Resources Plan 2012-2022,which will be released later in 2011.