Auckland health shared services unit HealthAlliance has resuscitated efforts to develop a standard desktop based on open-source software, but CIO Phil Brimacombe says it looks as though the District Health Boards will never be able to divorce their desktops entirely from Microsoft.
First mooted in 2005, the open-source desktop idea, seen as potentially relevant for all DHBs, was “put into mothballs” in 2009, owing to many higher-priority projects, Brimacombe says.
“We’ve started it up again only in the past few weeks,” he told Computerworld last week. “It’s still as hard as it was.”
HealthAlliance and its shareholder boards, Counties Manukau and Waitemata, have a number of applications, particularly on the clinical side, that are Microsoft-specific.
“We’re still keen, but we’ll probably end up with a hybrid system,” Brimacombe says.
Eliminating everything built for Microsoft would severely limit the application repertoire and hence the number of staff who could use a purely open-source desktop, he says.
“There’s no way we could be Microsoft-free,” says Brimacombe, “but we expect a hybrid solution will still lower our total cost of ownership.”
Meanwhile, HealthAlliance is working on a number of projects planned to come to fruition later this year.
These include electronic referrals by general practitioners, electronic discharge summaries that go back to the GP when the patient leaves hospital and a “medications reconciliation” system that keeps track of the medicines the patient was taking on entering hospital and those they are taking when they leave.
The three Auckland boards, Waitemata, Counties Manukau and North Shore, plus Northland DHB have recently completed a long-term regional information strategy covering clinical, business, workforce and knowledge management areas.