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The Southern District Health Board has approved a $215million business case for a digital strategy, even though it is uncertain how it will pay for it.
The plan, estimated to cost $215million over 10 years, is intended to ensure the new Dunedin Hospital is a digital facility when the building opens, and that there is capacity to develop that further as technology improves.
When the Ministry of Health approved the initial $1.4billion budget for the hospital project, its digital business case was excluded for separate development.
The plan envisaged that the SDHB would contribute about $40million over a decade from its annual budget, and the ministry the balance.
In the next financial year a $9.3million spend was expected, $5.1million from the ministry and the rest from the SDHB.
Board chief executive Chris Fleming warned that the board did not have that money in its annual plan, and that it would need to negotiate with the ministry to fund it.
"We have to find a pathway for that ... We are going to run out of money for this on July 1 if we don’t find an answer for that $9.3million."
Crown Monitor Roger Jarrold said in its current draft the business case did not make it clear enough that other SDHB hospitals, regional hospitals and general practices would also have upgrades to their digital capability, and also that some of the SDHB initiatives would be picked up by other South Island DHBs.
"The casual reader might not understand how far-reaching this is," Mr Jarrold said.
SDHB people, culture and technology executive director Mike Collins said the plan was expected to be a catalyst for other southern organisations to also develop their IT capability.
"While much of this is about the new Dunedin Hospital, you will see in the detailed business plan that the investment is about spreading the systems that we buy to other parts of the health system."
Ministry of Health deputy director-general of data and digital Shayne Hunter said the indicative case encompassed all the SDHB’s needs.
"It is ambitious but it needs to be, given the length of this project and where it needs to be in 10 years."
The board approved the plan unanimously.