The Victorian Office of Health Information Systems (OHIS) recently commenced a process to develop the next Whole of Health ICT Strategy for 2009-13.
It will be hoped the new Strategy overcomes problems encountered by the HealthSMART IT program that was designed to replace and rebuild IT infrastructure and systems across all the State’s health care agencies.
The Strategy will set out the strategic directions for ICT developments in the Victorian public health sector and a recommended approach to implement. An implementation plan will also be developed to detail the recommended approach, the work program and the associated resource requirements required to support implementation.
The agency says the primary objectives of developing the Health ICT Strategy are to:
- Ensure that investment in health ICT actively and effectively supports the Victorian public health sector in addressing its major priorities, challenges and opportunities
- Provide an overall framework, principles and direction to guide investment in health ICT over the next four years
- Ensure that investment in ICT across the Victorian public health sector is applied to deliver outcomes that impact the priority business issues across the sector (including minimising risk)
- Ensure that Victoria is positioned to leverage from, influence and participate, in the emergent national agenda for e-health while leveraging investments made to date.
Department of Human Services, the agency with carriage of the Strategy, has conducted a series of consultation forums, and indicates wide consultation will continue. An environmental scan has also been conducted, looking at experiences and lessons learned by other organizations, both nationally and internationally.
A Steering Committee has been established to oversee the development of the strategy and provide recommendation to the Board of Health Information Systems. The Committee will consider the draft Strategy at its next meeting on 5 October.
The strategy and strategic plan, with an associated business case, may then be used to support funding submissions, including the 2009-10 budget development process. If determined appropriate, this may include submitting an ERC bid to Government for an allocation specific to the implementation of the Health ICT Strategy.
This Strategy will replace the troubled HealthSMART IT program that has been plagued by delays, and budget blowouts, as well as issues concerning suppliers and the technologies involved.
Earlier this year, the Victorian Auditor-General delivered a report critical of the HealthSMART IT program for the Victorian public health sector program. He found a number of significant issues with the implementation.
HealthSMART is a six-year, technology program operating across the Victorian Public Health System (VPHS) and due for completion in June 2009. The program is large (more than $400m) and complex, involving health services, rural information and communication technology (ICT) alliances and community-based health providers across the state. It was the most far-reaching ICT change program ever undertaken by the VPHS.
The Auditor-General made a number of recommendations to the DHS including devising a realistic schedule for the implementation of clinical systems, defining standard method to record agency costs, monitoring agency costs.