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VIC e-health system plagued by problems

Victoria's abandoned multi-million-dollar e-health system implemented in just a handful of hospitals was overly ambitious and has not improved patient safety, an inquiry has been told.

The HealthSMART rollout began in 2003, costed at $360 million, under the previous state Labor government, but is fully operational at just four health services across Victoria, including Melbourne's Royal Eye and Ear Hospital.

Hospital chief executive Ann Clark said it would have been better to have different information technology systems to suit individual hospitals but develop a set of common rules so information could be shared.

She said the hospital faced significant complexities integrating HealthSMART with its outsourced pathology system.

"This was a very ambitious program," Clark told a Victorian parliamentary inquiry into significant infrastructure projects today.

"It proved to be a fairly difficult and challenging journey."

Clark said the hospital underestimated the amount of training and support needed by senior clinicians, who may only be at the hospital once every few weeks.

Ophthalmology services executive director David Lau said HealthSMART had not impacted patient safety but noted this was not the experience of other hospitals.

The coalition government scrapped HealthSMART last May after $500 million had already been spent on the system.


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