The national rollout of a €35m IT system designed to improve care for mothers and babies has been put on hold until a digital link is in place that will allow electronic sharing of data between maternity hospitals and GPs.
Richard Corbridge, the HSE’s chief information officer, who is due to leave his post in November, said he has “personally committed that no new site will go live until we have designed, built, and tested the integrated solution”.
Integration between the GP and hospital system in the Cork region is due to commence on October 31.
The Irish College of General Practitioners has criticised the decision to go live with the Maternal and Newborn Clinical Management System (MN-CMS) at Cork University Maternity Hospital (CUMH) and University Hospital Kerry (UHK) without first establishing a link to their IT systems, as GPs and maternity hospitals operate a shared-care model.
The next site earmarked for rollout is the Rotunda Hospital. A contract up to the value of €330,000 has been awarded to consultants Prospectus to assist “where capacity is limited within the Rotunda and the national [HSE project] team”. If the full value of the contract is drawn down, it will bring overall consultant spend on the project to more than €1m to get the system up and running in just three of the country’s 19 maternity units.
The HSE has already paid Deloitte €700,000 to assist rollout in CUMH and UHK. Consultant fees are in addition to the €35m paid to US firm Cerner, with whom the HSE signed a seven-year contract, with the option to extend by three years.
Last November, the ICGP was told the absence of a digital link between GPs and the hospital system would be resolved within six months.
The HSE said the solution “is in the final stages of testing” and will be made available nationally after being piloted in CUMH and KUH. The next MN-CMS sites will only go live once this solution has been proven in the live environment.”
The HSE conceded it was “disappointing” that the link currently in place for integrated care is “still a paper-based process” and it was “clear the link needs to be digital before the next sites can go live”.
The HSE said failure to install a digital link between GPs and hospitals prior to the go-live was “not an oversight”. The interim solution was to print out the electronic health record and add it to the paper file carried by the mum-to-be to ensure GPs and the hospitals have access to the same information.
The national rollout is well behind schedule — four hospitals were originally earmarked to have the system installed in 2016. The rollout in CUMH was delayed six months and took 10,000 staff training hours.
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