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State

Email suggests how to avoid IT embarrassment

QUEENSLAND Health staff were ordered not to perform digital system upgrades during parliamentary sitting weeks.

Emails were sent instructing staff not to schedule the important upgrades during that period, seemingly so the Government could avoid embarrassment if problems occurred.

The Courier-Mail has revealed the ieMR - a new electronic medical record system - crashed at every hospital that uses it in September, in the latest in a string of issues plaguing Queensland Health IT projects

But Health Minister Steven Miles said the order, first reported by Nine, did not come from his office or the Premier's.

It's alleged a senior Queensland Health employee sent the email.

Mr Miles said upgrades to digital hospital systems should be performed when it is best for clinical care.

He said he had met with Cerner - the company which Queensland Health pays to implement ieMR - and demanded they and the department agree on a better way to plan and communicate outages.

"As a result the director-general and Cerner have agreed that Cerner will provide at least a week's notice before any planned outage," he said.

"The new protocol makes no reference to parliamentary sitting dates.

"That email has been retracted and it has been clarified that upgrades and maintenance should always happen at a time that least inconveniences patients, clinicians and hospitals."

A Queensland Health spokesperson said the email was "clearly inappropriate".

"The ieMR is consistently improving and delivering better outcomes for patients, clinicians and taxpayers," the statement said.

"The company behind the rollout, Cerner, has agreed that upgrades and maintenance should always be at a time that least inconveniences clinicians and hospitals.

"We have agreed with Cerner that they will provide at least a weeks' notice before any planned outage.

"The new protocol makes no reference to parliamentary sitting dates, and absolutely no instruction came from the minister's office to that effect."



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