€19,000 to send HSE staff to US conference

Seven HSE staff travelled to the US, to Kansas, at a cost of €19,000. The trip was to attend a conference at which two of them made a presentation.

€19,000 to send HSE staff to US conference

The conference was hosted by Cerner, the multinational healthcare technology company contracted by the HSE to provide two new IT systems, one for maternity hospitals and one for hospital laboratories, at a combined cost of €70m.

Both projects, the Maternal and Newborn Clinical Management System (MNCMS) and MedLIS, have experienced significant delays.

The average cost per delegate at the conference was €3,223.50, according to Freedom of Information documents. This included return economy flights, conference registration fees, five-night hotel stay, transport to and from the airport, “innovations experience”, and a “global networking dinner”.

The seven were members of the HSE’s MN-CMS project team. Cerner paid for one team member to attend. The conference ran from October 9 to 12 and the seven at the four-star Sheraton Crown Court.

The HSE said the purpose of sending staff was to provide “our team with the opportunity to network with other Cerner customers, share experiences, learn from other successes and mistakes, and also learn from Cerner experts at the event”. Two members of the team made presentations, “on foot of the successful implementation” of the MNCMS at Cork University Maternity Hospital (CUMH) and University Hospital Kerry (UHK).

The rollout of MNCMS at CUMH was delayed six months and involved 10,000 hours of staff training. When it did go live, there was no digital link with GPs, who provide shared care to pregnant mums, causing further delays in the national rollout.

The two who made presentations were Richard Greene, a consultant obstetrician/gynaecologist at CUMH and MNCMS clinical lead, and Dr Brendan Murphy, MNCMS neonatology lead and consultant neonatologist at CUMH.

Prof Greene outlined the CUMH experience in rolling out the MNCMS, the “realised benefits, the yet-to-be-realised benefit, and the lessons learned”. Dr Murphy outlined the implementation of an electronic health record for newborns.

The other five HSE staff were Michael Robson (MN-CMS project chair), Eileen Burke (project manager), Caroline Cahill (programme manager), Elaine Naughton (infrastructure technical lead), and Deirdre O’Regan (national support manager).

The MNCMS project is the design and implementation of an electronic health record for all women and babies in maternity services.

MedLIS, the other Cerner system, had an original start date of October, 2015, but has been pushed back to the second quarter of 2018.

FOI documents say revisions to go-live dates are “primarily due to a lag in configuring and building the application to the defined Irish requirements” and that the delays “are, in part, due to inadequate resourcing... by Cerner”.

The “initial testing of the system was deemed to have failed due to a lack of a successful build”.

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