At first sight, the health sector, the travel industry and workplace counselling don't have much in common, but the three sectors are all represented in the Overall Excellence in the Use of IT category of the Computerworld Excellence Awards.
What the three finalists — House of Travel, employment counsellor EAP Services and the Hutt Valley District Health Board — all have in common is innovative use of IT to better achieve their objectives.
The Hutt Valley District Health Board's entry showcases its transition from a dispersed, ad hoc IT environment that didn't have a full-time IT manager (the role was performed by a part-time contractor) to one in which patient information is distributed via Orion Systems' Concerto medical applications portal and where doctors access information with a trolley-mounted laptop, via a wireless LAN.
However, before it streamlined its patient information systems, the DHB had to have the right underlying infrastructure and this was achieved by introducing a standard, organisation-wide email, calendaring and groupware system, building an intranet and making internet access far more widely available than it had been.
Other underlying improvements include standardising desktop systems and consolidating databases. The whole process, from infrastructure to patient management systems, was carried out between 2000 and 2004.
The second finalist, House of Travel, saw the need for an online booking system that offered customers the ability to do their own booking online and be serviced by travel agencies afterwards. The system also needed to allow agents to easily find web bookings made by customers and alter them if necessary.
Under the previous arrangement, House of Travel's own agents were able to access flight information easily, but the challenge was to make such information available to customers who wanted to do bookings themselves. This was achieved by partnering with Datacom to produce a customer-facing booking engine that was integrated into House of Travel's own customer management system. The development was done in .Net.
The project was completed in September and has brought benefits to House of Travel including increased traffic on its website and more bookings.
The third finalist is Employment Assistance provider EAP Services. Its entry is about its appointment booking and statistical information system, which manages and records appointments, integrates appointments with invoices and provides statistical feedback to EAP customers, which include major companies and government departments.
The benefits to EAP include having all its activities on one central database and being able to provide customers with feedback in the form of OLAP reports.
The system was developed in C#, using Microsoft Visual Studio .Net and the SQL Server database. It was provided by software developer Dyosoft and went live in 2003.
The Computerworld Excellence Awards winners will be announced at an Auckland dinner tonight.