Health scheduling network attracts Aussies

Auckland Healthcare's ground-breaking new scheduling system is said to being closely watched by other Australasian health care providers. After an extensive evaluation, Auckland Healthcare decided on Pathways Healthcare Scheduling (PHS), which is being sourced through services company CSC from HBOC, one of the largest US healthcare software vendors. It will be the first time this system is delivered in Australasia.

Auckland Healthcare's ground-breaking new scheduling system is said to being closely watched by other Australasian health care providers.

Two years ago, Auckland Healthcare reviewed its IS strategic plan with Ernst & Young, clarifying its technology direction, management principles and project priorities. "One of those priorities was to find and implement an enterprise-wide scheduling system," says Auckland Healthcare information general services manager Cyril Snow.

After an extensive evaluation, Snow says Auckland Healthcare decided on Pathways Healthcare Scheduling (PHS), which is being sourced through services company CSC from HBOC, one of the largest US healthcare software vendors. It will be the first time this system is delivered in Australasia.

Auckland Healthcare signed the contract with CSC a month ago. The application will be rolled out over the next year, enabling Auckland Hospital, Starship children's hospital, Greenlane and National Women's hospitals and Auckland Healthcare's community care organisation to schedule appointments, resources, rooms and equipment. The network -— probably the largest NT network in New Zealand — will connect more than 2000 users. The IS strategic plan determined that PHS should be integrated with Auckland Healthcare's CHIPS in-patient systems, using the CMS case management system.. CMS, which is built using Microsoft enterprise components, allows clinical units to manage their workloads. CMS is deployed on NT workstations — there are 50 NT servers in a single domain, with around 10 running SQL Server. Pathways is also NT-based with a SQL Server database.

"We think this gives us a tremendous amount of scope for the future but we will implement PHS as straightforwardly as possible to get us oft the existing system," Snow says.

The old system runs on an ICL mainframe and is not year 2000-compliant, one of the reasons for a tight time implementation for the new system. Project management has been outsourced to the SIMPL group.

Collectively, the cost of PHS and CHIPS is around $7.5 million.

"Our architecture is pretty much future-proof," Snow says. "It allows us to plug and play modern Microsoft components together. "It's a unique approach in New Zealand and, I suspect, may be unique in the world."

CSC healthcare manager Chris Gray says a number of Australasian health care providers are watching the project with interest. The CSC healthcare group has revenues of $100 million across the region.

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