Wellington, Taranaki hospitals team up on IT

Wellington's Capital and Coast District Health Board and its Taranaki counterpart are integrating their IT systems in an effort to rationalise resources.

Wellington’s Capital and Coast District Health Board and its Taranaki counterpart are integrating their IT systems in an effort to rationalise resources.

The collaboration has been in place for about nine months but it will be formalised under the HealthIntelligence label later this year.

“The key benefits are being able to leverage off each other, so as not to duplicate,” says Capital and Coast DHB information and planning director Andre Snoxall.

“Healthcare information management is fairly generic across organisations.”

HealthIntelligence will offer the Wellington-based DHB much, he says, despite it being a bigger organisation than Taranaki.

“Taranaki has represented excellence in a couple of areas we’d like to leverage off, such as their web-based records and patient management.”

Going the other way, “we have some specialist applications they’d like to leverage off”.

Capital and Coast has an information security team, “something Taranaki hasn’t been able to justify — hopefully they’ll get the benefits”.

The two boards have been informally working together for at least nine months. “We’ve been sharing services, skills and expertise. We’ve been working on a new IT infrastructure for the two organisations including an information portal and a whole-of-enterprise Citrix deployment.”

Talks have also been held on a joint strategic plan for information management, but perhaps the most fundamental part of the HealthIntelligence project is establishing a single data network for the two boards.

“We’re looking to combine the data networks so we can do videoconferencing ... and share facilities. With a single network, we’ll be able to share intranet resources and eliminate things as simple as having two telephone directory systems. By doing things across two geographically dispersed organisations, we will open up the possibility of sharing services and support with other healthcare providers.”

Opening up HealthIntelligence to others is a possibility in the long term. One possible application of that is a portal and authentication package that allows access, with appropriate restrictions, to patient records across all of the patients’ healthcare providers.

“In the past two years, hospitals have metamorphosed into district health boards and taken on responsibilities beyond the hospital setting,” says Taranaki district health board corporate support general manager Gordon Chisnall. “Boards are responsible for funding pharmacies and rest homes, for example.”

The aim is to have a means of controlled access to patient records by doctors, pharmacists and others in a single authenticated environment. “It won’t mean stakeholders can have access to everything.”

The portal is being provided by Plumtree Software and the authentication package by Baltimore Technologies.

It is in testing phase, with contracts yet to be signed, Chisnall says.

Chisnall sees the planned portal as something HealthIntelligence could offer other district health boards.

However, the extension plans don’t mean HealthIntelligence will be competing with healthAlliance, the company recently formed to provide shared back-office services to the Waitemata and Counties-Manukau District Health Boards.

“The space HealthAlliance is working in is different — they’re doing ERP and financials etc.”

The Taranaki board is planning to run the Oracle 11i financials package, shared through healthAlliance.

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