€2.1 billion needed to upgrade HSE IT network, board says

Up to €2.1 billion could be needed to modernize the HSE’s IT networks over 20 years, the HSE Board has been told.

It comes as two senior executives from EY Ireland temporarily join the HSE’s eHealth work.

Puneet Kukreja is the Acting Chief Information Security Officer and John Ward is the Acting Chief Technology and Transformation Officer.

They are partners with EY Ireland and have been selected following a public procurement framework process.

An HSE spokesperson said the permanent positions will be advertised early next year. A spokeswoman for EY said they were unable to comment on customer cases.

The company received 17.7 million euros from the HSE between the beginning of 2020 and the end of March 2021.

It recently emerged that former HSE chief executive Paul Reid could take on consultancy work with EY next year. Former deputy chief medical officer Ronan Glynn is now head of healthcare at EY.

Minutes of the HSE board meeting for September show Mr Ward said a case had been brought to the Department of Health.

“The investment case estimates the cost of implementing eHealth, specifically implementing an EHR [electronic health record] €1.4 billion system with a baseline deployment phase of seven to 10 years and a total implementation timeframe of 20 years,” the minutes read.

A separate program for ICT and cybersecurity is expected to require €656 million over seven years. This includes 260 million euros for voluntary organisations.

“In summary, the estimated funding allocation required by the HSE could reach €2.1 billion to achieve a successful and secure eHealth transformation,” the board said.

The meeting heard that €88.5 million is needed to mobilize cybersecurity plans next year.

“Electronic records may increase clinical risk”

Meanwhile, an inquest into the death of baby Molly McEvoy at Rotunda Hospital has revealed that the electronic medical note-keeping system may be increasing risk to patients rather than helping improve care for pregnant women.

Sam Coulter-Smith, a consultant obstetrician and gynecologist, told an inquest that the Rotunda had “lost process control” of how it kept medical records.

He added: “Electronic records may increase clinical risk rather than remove clinical risk.”

Professor Coulter-Smyth, a former master of the Rotunda, claimed the system had been ‘parachuted’, with any changes subject to HSE approval, and was ‘not user-friendly’.

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