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Does your hospital have data recovery?

Storage is a presumptive business. After all, if employees can buy a new 8GB iPod for the kids for Christmas, why is it apparently so costly for the company to throw in a measly new hard drive or two?

Storage is a presumptive business. Employees tend to assume that the business has data recovery strategies in place, and that new storage can be added at minimal cost. After all, if they can buy a new 8GB iPod for the kids for Christmas, why is it apparently so costly for the company to throw in a measly new hard drive or two?

Such assumptions are frequently dangerous, of course, as I was reminded during last week's Government Technology World conference in Canberra. During one panel discussion, participants were asked how to ensure that projects would actually succeed once a commitment to fund them had been gained.

As moderator Steve Hodgkinson from industry analysts Ovum pointed out, IT projects, especially in government, are often saddled with preconditions for failure, such as delivery deadlines that are unsustainable, or a planned implementation that doesn't take account of the real needs of a department.

One suggestion to ensure success was to make sure that the non-technical benefits of a project were widely promoted.

Terry Wright, principal strategist for the commercial division in the Victorian Department of Treasury and Finance, used the example of the HealthSmart project in the state, and how specific technology activities had helped improve trust in the institution.

"When they started, none of the public hospitals in Victoria had disaster recovery," Wright pointed out. "When it's finished, 52 of them will have." The obvious benefit of such improvements made it easier to build commitment to the project, he said.

That's all undoubtedly true but, to be honest, I was still gobsmacked by the news that basic disaster recovery is only a relatively recent priority in the Victorian health system. Most larger hospitals have generators, after all, so why not throw in a broader backup policy.

This was, of course, a dangerous presumption on my part.

After all, health funding is a perennial subject of argument, especially when, as now, we're in election mode. Why assume that IT funding for hospitals would be any kind of priority?

That's not intended as a criticism -- 52 hospitals is a lot better than none. But 100 percent of hospitals would be a lot better. I'm not going to make the assumption it's going to happen, though.