Ashby steps up as digital hospital budget blows out

It has been a somewhat rocky road for Queensland Health and its eHealth ventures over the last few years and it seems little has changed, with a new face stepping up to front eHealth Queensland just as the state's Auditor-General reveals a bit of a blow-out in the budgets for a couple of high-profile eHealth roll-outs.

Just as Pulse+IT reports that the digital hospital version of the Cerner electronic medical record has cost a little more than expected at Brisbane's Metro South Hospital and Health Service's Princess Alexandra Hospital, we hear that Metro South's CEO and “digital hospital evangelist” Richard Ashby has secured the CEO/CIO gig at eHealth Queensland.

What a coincidence, as Bill Heslop said to Deirdre Chambers. Dr Ashby, a medical doctor who has been inextricably linked to the roll-out of Cerner's technology at PAH since the early 2000s, begins his new job on February 20, according to the man he is replacing, former Mater Health CIO Mal Thatcher, who revealed the news on his LinkedIn account. (Those who have been around the traps will remember the absolutely delicious Courier Mail Pineapple Politics blog about QH IT, featuring Cerner and Dr Ashby, from some years ago. It is sadly offline now but is referred to in this Computerworld article from 2009.)

Dr Thatcher has been acting CEO/CIO since Colin McCririck hot-footed it overseas, having been put through the wringer by the state's Crime and Corruption Commission (CCC) during a nepotism scandal, the result of which is still up in the air.

Mr McCririck himself was cleared of all involvement and it's no wonder he cleared off after that experience, but it was an unsettling time to be sure, particularly as the state government had just released a $1.26 billion ICT investment strategy and was looking down the barrel of a massive piece of work in replacing its veteran PAS system and tendering for an upgrade to its statewide pathology system.

We hear that Cerner is in with a big chance to snap that one up, and Dr Ashby's deep knowledge of the company's technology should hold him in good stead. He may have to answer questions as to why the most recent roll-out at PAH blew the budget, however, as the same version is being planned for five more implementations this year.

Cerner of course is no stranger to controversy, its equally rocky start to a statewide roll-out in NSW still a raw memory for many. Last week's poll question about whether NSW's $400 million for eHealth had been put to good use is perhaps a warning: 41 per cent of you voted yes for NSW, but a substantial 59 per cent said no.

With the NT about to announce the winning tenderer for its $186m CCSRP, the question must be asked: Are hospital EMRs worth the price?

Tags: Cerner, iEMR, Princess Alexandra Hospital, Mal Thatcher


+2 # John Kerry 2017-02-05 14:20
i have seen Cerner implementations exceeding budget for many many years. Each time its simly reported and as now, we have another 5 hospitals ready with tax payers money to spend more money then budgeted. Why not STOP and do a professional analysis as to all the real hiddenn facts about such continuing waste of money/ Why not check on what facts and assumptions are the budgets set to begin with, is realistic processes, time allowances, scope of requirements, quality assurance and the common sense list goes on and on ever budgeted for? Is the supplier ever called on to make good to deliver what was scoped? From my experineces I have never experienced these professional measures...yet we just report on it, accept it and repeat again. a wake up call is well overdue

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