Counties, Waitemata health boards share CIO

IT collaboration between two of Auckland's district health boards has been given added impetus by the appointment of a single information chief to both.

IT collaboration between two of Auckland’s district health boards has been given added impetus by the appointment of a single information chief to both.

Counties Manukau District Health Board CIO Phil Brimacombe has been handed the same role at Waitemata Health following the departure of its CIO, Ray Delany, to the New Zealand Health Information Service in Wellington.

In a statement, both boards claim the combined role, effective from March 1, provides “a single point of accountability for the convergence of IS strategy, systems, service and structure, which recently got underway with the shared services project”.

That project already entails joint involvement by the two boards in a medical supplies e-procurement trial, which went live last month (Medical exchange goes live).

Brimacombe will be responsible for 100 IT staff (60 from Counties, 40 from Waitemata), and budgets of $8.5 million from Counties and $8 million from Waitemata. He will work between three sites in Manukau, Middlemore Hospital and North Shore Hospital.

The two boards have adopted a shared approach to IT and other services for efficiency and other reasons.

“Long-term, one of the major objectives of IT shared services is we will be able to get much greater efficiency and common platforms. It is not just about efficiency, though. It is about rationalising strategy, sites and services and improving services,” Brimacombe says.

Services would improve with the two boards working together on implementing projects such as the PiMS patient administration system, from iSoft, which is already used by Counties Manukau. Waitemata will also implement the same clinical information system and the same integrated care information system, gaining “a high degree of convergence”, he says.

“The whole vision of this move is a better outcome of care for patients because of rationalised services. Doctors, when they rotate between hospitals, will be using the same systems in a much larger community of health care providers,” he says.

Brimacombe says performing both CIO roles does not mean either has been downgraded, as it will be “challenging” and he may need some temporary help until the merger of the departments. He gets a pay rise with his extra responsibilities, but says the health boards still made an overall salary saving in the move. He is also unaware of anything like this happening elsewhere.

Brimacombe has been CIO for Counties Manukau DHB and its hospital provider South Auckland Health since 1999. Previously, he was IT manager for the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) for five years. Before then, he worked in IT roles for Foodtown Supermarkets and its parent Progressive Enterprises for nearly two years, the last two of which he was IS manager.

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