HealthAlliance bids for national shared services role

IT services provider to several North Island DHBs seeks broader role

Auckland-based health shared services provider HealthAlliance is making a bid to lead the establishment of the national health sector shared services agency, recommended by Tony Ryall’s ministerial review group.

In its submissions to the review group’s “Meeting the challenge” report, released in August, HealthAlliance lays out two proposed options, the first of which would see the organisation establish and become the national shared services unit proposed in the review.

The second option is that HealthAlliance leads the development of subsidiaries or one subsidiary to the agency to provide “back office shared services for the sector”.

HealthAlliance delivers IT and other services to its owners, the Waitemata and Counties Manukau district health boards (DHBs), as well as to Taranaki DHB.

“HealthAlliance is the only organisation in the health sector providing a range of back-office functions to more than one DHB with separate CEOs and boards,” the submission says.

To back its claim, HealthAlliance includes a chart showing it has delivered shared services at costs lower than initially forecast when the organisation was established.

“HealthAlliance recognises the importance of having wide DHB support for any shared service agency if it is to be successful and achieve results sooner. HealthAlliance has the experience and intellectual property needed to develop positive and constructiuve working relationships across DHB boundaries.”

The submission says establishing shared services from a blank sheet is likely to be expensive. Selecting HealthAlliance to lead the development of a national agency will cut required investment and speed development as well as minimising restructuring and disruption.

HealthAlliance, which is a large user of Oracle’s business software, currently provides IT, finance, payroll, procurement and supply chain and other services.

It is currently leading a project to converge the financial applications of several other DHBs, including Northland and Auckland.

No submission could be located online for the Health Management System Collaborative, a group of seven DHBs that went to tender this year aiming to create a shared information system. Bennett Medary, the CEO of Simpl, which is providing consultancy to the project, says a submission was definitely made.

He says a meeting of the HMSC governance committee in a couple of weeks would help clarify the next steps for the group.

A collective submission from New Zealand’s 21 DHBs says the national shared services agency should be owned by the DHBs and the proposed National Health Board rather than a separate Crown entity reporting to the minister.

It also suggests DHBs be tasked with establishing shared services subsidiaries. Whether this results in one or several entities should be up to the DHBs.

In its submission, health software provider iSoft says its engagement with the Ministry of Health has been problematic for many years due to policy being developed in isolation from those required to support it.

It says the duplication of effort and investment in the sector is “astounding”.

Perhaps tongue in cheek, one independent submitter suggested a new unified health body could be called “Kiwihealth”.

See also DHB Group rejects scope limitation for health IT project

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