IT brings better health for North Shore Hospital

Changing the image of IS support from dull nerds who gobble up cash is one of the achievements of Waitemata Health's new information chief Ray Delany.

Changing the image of IS support from dull nerds who gobble up cash is one of the achievements of Waitemata Health’s new information chief Ray Delany.

After three years at North Shore Hospital, Delany says “we give plenty of evidence that we are to the contrary”.

This is helped by infrastructure standardisation at the hospital, which has seen IT costs drop 20%, says Delany, releasing more funds for patient care.

The former information services manager has been appointed to the new role to give Waitemata Health a broader, strategic view of IT. It also coincides with rapid change at North Shore Hospital and the health sector in general.

Much change results from the new co-operative model in the health service, replacing the competitive model of former governments. New technology is also leading to far greater use of information so doctors can be advised quicker and better to improve patient care. It also helps with buying supplies, bringing more savings.

“A high standard of information is needed as patients’ lives are at stake,” Delany says.

North Shore Hospital has 1200 desktops and 80 servers - using both thin and fat clients - on Microsoft and Unix systems. Desktops are replaced after five years.

Delany is in charge of 27 staff and also works with a semi-independent "matrix" team of 10 others. Recently he helped introduce an Oracle financial ERP system for procurement and financial management. It cost a few million “but savings have been significantly more”, he says. A $600,000 IT centre was opened before Christmas as part of a $60 million hospital upgrade. And this year Delany is implementing an integrated patient management system, to streamline the administration and discharge of patients. Handheld devices are being trialled for taking patient notes and transmitting details wirelessly.

Dublin born and bred, Delany trained in electronics and communication but became interested in programming, undertook a course and spent three years as a trainee programmer.

He came to Auckland in 1983 and worked in development for Feltex Data Systems, then was IT manager for Moore Business Forms and Systems, and a project manager at Fisher & Paykel for five years, designing a distribution system.

Delany says he likes his job in what is a busy environment that demands a sense of humour to cope with sometimes unpleasant sights.

“You have to be fairly thick-skinned. Most people [here] have some level of dedication to public service. They're not in it for the salary,” Delany says.

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