HealthSMART – Victoria

The following entry is a record in the “Catalogue of Catastrophe” – a list of failed and troubled projects from around the world.

Department of Health – Victoria – Australia
Project name : HealthSMART
Project type : e-health records
Date : May 2012
Cost :
 $566 Million AUD

Synopsis :
Efforts to integrate patient health records with functions for financial management, patient management, resource management and medical image archiving are stopped after the project exceeds its original cost estimates by $240M.  Originally scheduled for implementation in 2007, the troubled project did achieve partial deployment (4 out of 10 health agencies made the switch), but rising costs resulted in a decision to cancel the project in 2012.

The plan involved the purchase a system from the USA, which would then be modified to meet local requirements. Unfortunately the gap between the local requirements and the functionality of the base system from the USA required modifications that were much greater than envisaged.  In the end the base system was largely rewritten which resulted in the massive cost overruns. Similarly, because the design was not a clean sheet design the system as implemented was regarded as difficult to maintain.

An audit of the project found a lack of planning and criticized the project for failing to do sufficient analysis before making key strategic decisions (in regard to the business case the auditor is quoted as saying “I would say it was more of a concept brief rather than a fully written business case”)

Contributing factors as reported in the press:
Failure to develop a solid business case before making key strategic implementation decisions. Poor planning. Lack of governance and oversight.  Attempting to modify a purchased software package beyond the point where it makes financial sense.

Other related projects :

  1. NHS Care Records Service – UK 
  2. London Stock Exchange – Taurus project (again attempts to modify a purchased system turned out to be much bigger than anticipated)

Reference links :

  1. Victoria kills HealthSMART IT project
  2. Troubled HealthSMART System Finally Cancelled in Victoria Australia
  3. HealthSMART system cavalier: Vic auditor


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