District Health Boards (DHBs) across the country are set to introduce new IT infrastructure designed to increase security, reliability, and service levels, and reduce the risk of critical outages.
IBM New Zealand’s cloud-based IT infrastructure services will be the foundation for the National Infrastructure Platform (NIP) with the tech giant and Crown company announcing an agreement this morning, with individual DHBs now signing contracts to use the Platform.
NIP is the IT infrastructure which hosts the applications and systems DHBs use every day in the delivery of health care.
The programme will transition DHBs from their current 40 data centres of varying size, age, quality and adherence to standards, to two IBM-managed data centres with higher security classifications - one in Auckland, the other in Christchurch.
Director of the National Health IT Board, Graeme Osborne, says it has responded to a number of IT outages at DHBs in the last two years which had an immediate impact on the smooth delivery of health services.
"The improved resilience and strengthened disaster recovery capabilities of NIP will reduce the risk of IT outages affecting the efficient operation of health services,” Osborne says.
“The IT Board also notes the importance of the scalability of the Platform.”
Southern DHB CEO Carole Heatly, says Southern DHB is “very supportive” of the NIP programme.
“Patient care is paramount and the clinical benefits of a more stable and secure IT platform cannot be understated,” Heatly adds.
The IBM solution will aggregate each DHB onto a single Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), which is fully aligned to the Government ICT Strategy and Action Plan to 2017.
Consequently, IaaS aims to enable DHBs to purchase their IT infrastructure on demand, allowing them to only pay for what they need, when they need it, without the burden of maintaining and owning their own infrastructure.
Osborne says HBL selected IBM because of its “deep expertise” in the healthcare sector, as well as its credentials when it comes to building and managing enterprise grade cloud infrastructure solutions.
"Public sector agencies are adopting IBM's Government IaaS offering to create cost savings and provide new, enhanced services to their communities, suppliers and staff,” says Rob Lee, Managing Director, IBM New Zealand.
“This is a significant agreement for health and offers DHBs much greater flexibility in how they purchase and manage IT infrastructure services.
"We have assembled a best-of-breed team of global and local partners to deliver on this project, including Computer Concepts Ltd, Racemi and FX Networks."
Along with the significant reduction in day-to-day operational risk, Lee says NIP will provide financial benefits of $23.9 million (total cost of ownership over 10-years) across all DHBs.
A total of 15 of the country's 20 DHBs have conditionally approved the Business Case and HBL is making good progress with the other five - the first four DHBs (Northland, Auckland, Counties Manukau and Waitemata) have signed contracts to use the platform.
The transition to NIP will start from mid-2015 and is expected to take three years.