Cost of HSE’s €35m IT system continues to rise

Cost of HSE’s €35m IT system continues to rise
Cork University Maternity Hospital

An IT system for maternity hospitals that came with a €35m price tag has cost the HSE hundreds of thousands in additional consultancy fees, writes Catherine Shanahan.

However, the final bill is likely to run to millions as 17 more maternity units have yet to have the system implemented.

The rollout of the Maternal and Newborn Clinical Management System (MN-CMS) cost an additional €500,000 at Cork University Maternity Hospital (CUMH) and an extra €200,000 at University Hospital Kerry, with Deloitte brought in to get the project over the line.

The Irish Examiner obtained the information following a freedom of information request which the HSE initially said would cost more than €600,000 to process. However, after the figure was reported in the media and minor alterations were made to the request, the cost was revised to zero.

The new system is earmarked for national rollout with Dublin’s Rotunda Hospital and the National Maternity Hospital (NMH) scheduled to go live later this year.

The HSE has confirmed its MN-CMS project team has gone to tender for “support partners” to assist implementation in the Rotunda and the NMH.

A spokesperson said this was due to “resource constraints on the HSE side and to ensure the project continues at a pace”.

“These are deemed essential for the HSE to deliver successful and safe go-lives [system launches] in all hospitals.”

The HSE is evaluating responses before awarding the contract to the successful consultancy firm.

Although the system is designed by American multinational Cerner which has the contract to deliver it, the HSE said it “recognised” during implementation that its own clinical and business staff did not have the expertise to “ensure a successful go-live”.

In the case of Cork and Kerry, Deloitte provided “Cerner system knowledge” at a cost of €500,000.

This included a project manager, change management support, communications with key stakeholders and activation, testing and general project support.

Deloitte’s involvement with University Hospital Kerry followed a tender process. The HSE said the the Deloitte resources utilised in CUMH “was part of the change control process on the Cerner contract”.

Defending the spend on consultancy fees, Richard Corbridge, the HSE chief information officer, said a technology company “cannot take responsibility for business change, training or indeed the adoption of the system”.

“Worldwide digital health implementations have failed trying to do this, the national programme for IT in the NHS and many of the issues of use in the USA are related to exactly this approach being taken,” he said.

Sources told the Irish Examiner that the new system had not yet lived up to its billing and was challenging to develop as it was in constant clinical use.

The go-live at CUMH was delayed six months and took 9,500 hours of staff training. The system was due to go live in June 2016 but was delayed until December.

The HSE said configuration of the system required additional work.

“There was no additional Cerner cost associated with the delayed go-live,” the HSE said.

The MN-CMS is an electronic health record (EHR) for all women and babies who access our maternity services. It’s designed to provide accurate and up-to-date clinical information to all those involved in the care of mothers and babies.

This article first appeared in the Irish Examiner

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