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QLD Health underestimated ICT costs and risks

by Pallavi Singhal •
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Inability to manage ICT costs and risks is emerging as the Achilles heel of major health projects, with technology-related delays reported at three new Queensland health facilities. 

The development of Gold Coast University Hospital (GCUH), Lady Cilento Children’s Hospital (LCCH), and Sunshine Coast Public University Hospital (SCPUH), suffered as a result of ICT cost underestimation and the failure to realise the importance of ICT in project delivery, according to Queensland’s Auditor-General Andrew Greaves

GCUH opened three-months late in September 2013 with ICT being identified as the main reason, with ICT cited as a reason for a possible delay with launching LCCH in December 2014.

Both projects saw ICT costs inflate to double the original estimates, with increases totalling $112 million. The LCCH ICT budget rose by $38 million to $92 million, with a further $18.75 million likely to be need “to address additional ICT risks that have emerged”.

Issues in capacity at Queensland Health’s internal ICT service provider, the Health Services Information Agency (HSIA) have also been identified as a factor in the delays. The HSIA is responsible for the delivery of ICT infrastructure following the completion of the capital project and prior to occupancy.

There was concern within governance bodies “that the HSIA could not support three major tertiary hospital projects at the same time,” states the report.

A key reason for the blow out relates to accessing ICT skilled personnel, with the cost estimated on the use of public sector employees rather than more expensive external contractors.

Greaves is confident that the third facility, SCPUH is in a better position to learn from the mistakes of the two other facilities before it opens in 2016.

Western Australia has also suffered from poor budgeting with its Fiona Stanley Hospital which opened earlier in October 2014.

The Hospital was meant to be fully digital (i.e. paperless) from inception but this objective has been abandoned.  

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