Last big hiccup for WA Health?

The WA Department of Health got a a bit of a rap over the knuckles this week from WA Auditor-General Caroline Spencer, who noted in her report into a two-year delay rolling out PathWest's new laboratory information system that this sort of thing had happened perhaps one too many times before.

It was a gentle rap considering some of the horrors WA Health has had with IT projects over the last few years – Fiona Stanley Hospital and the centralised computing projectimmediately spring to mind – but you get the feeling that Ms Spencer agreed with former under-treasurer John Langoulant's comments last year that the state really has to pull up its socks when it comes to project governance.

“This is not the first audit into ICT project governance and delivery that my office has undertaken, and the recurring nature of some of the findings is disappointing,” Ms Spencer said.

She gave the department credit for having referred the project for audit itself, but there's no getting away from the fact that on the main question the audit focused on – has the LIS project been managed to deliver outcomes on time and on budget? – the answer is no. It will be late, and it will be over budget.

The auditor-general recommended that the health department develop and implement a standard risk assessment framework for all major WA health ICT projects by June 2020. This followed a recommendation by Mr Langoulant in February 2018 that it ensure a strong governance framework is in place as WA Health rolls out the $408.8 million HealthNext project.

We'll see. The new LIS, provided by US vendor SCC Soft Computer, which is also going to be rolled out to private provider Healius in a $100m deal, is due to go live in April next year.

Over in New Zealand, we heard that secondary care clinicians at four district health boards in the Midland region will get access to access to patients' dispensed medications data through the New Zealand ePrescribing Service (NZePS). This system functions much as eRx does in Australia – in fact, the same company was behind building them both – and is available to GPs and community pharmacies there.

It has been a tough road for take-up of the service, which is only used by about 160 of the 1000 or so general practices in New Zealand. That they are not subsidised to use the system as they are in Australia might be one of the road blocks.

Our top story was the roll out of a new system to support multi-disciplinary team meetings (MDTs) for cancer care at Sydney Adventist Hospital. The San is planning to build a cancer care centre of excellence and is very proud of its MDT meeting room, which allows all members of a patient's care team to get together to plan their treatment. The technology is also being used by Peter Mac and other cancer services at Melbourne's Parkville precinct and at St George Hospital in Sydney.

We also had a couple of state budgets this week. While there was no new money for health IT in the South Australian budget, there were a couple of implementation targets mentioned, including the configuration of the remaining clinical functionality of the Sunrise EMR and patient administration system – formerly known as EPAS – at the Royal Adelaide Hospital in the 2019-20 financial year. SA also plans to complete the procurement of its statewide chemotherapy prescribing system this year, and begin planning for a real-time prescription monitoring system.

There was also no new money in the NSW budget, but considering eHealth NSW secured over half a billion dollars over eight years in 2017-18, that's probably quite enough to be going on with.

That brings us to our poll question for the week: do public health IT projects need better project governance?

Sign up to our weekend edition or Pulse+IT Chat to vote, or leave your thoughts below.

Last week, we asked: Will access to test results on the My Health Record be a game-changer for GPs? 74 per cent did compared to 26 per cent who said no, but one reader thought we should have had a third option of “dunno” to make the answers more statistically valid.

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