Photo courtesy of St JohnMany IT people get locked up in Fortune 500 companies and contribute to the P and L of a company,\u201d says Martin Catterall, CIO at St John, who joined the charity in March. \u201cWell, our P and L is about people. And that\u2019s pretty special.\n\u201cWe\u2019re in a very privileged position as IT people to be able to directly contribute to the public health of New Zealanders.\u201d\nIn his first week on the job, Catterall spent several hours in the Auckland Clinical Control Centre at headquarters observing call handlers taking emergency 111 calls.\nSt John receives more than 1000 emergency calls each day.\n\u201cI watched the call handlers take these emergency calls day in, day out,\u201d he says. \u201cI realised how profoundly people look after each other in this country. It was quite moving.\u201d\nPhoto courtesy of St John\nHomecoming\nSt John is the largest primary healthcare provider in New Zealand and delivers emergency ambulance services to 90 per cent of the country.\nCatterall is St John New Zealand\u2019s first CIO, having joined the charity after 10 years in a global role as director of information technology and telecommunications at the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Geneva, Switzerland.\nPreviously, the St John ICT team was part of a wider function that included finance and administration. He reports to CEO, Peter Bradley,who came back to New Zealand after heading the London Ambulance Services.\nCatterall is a member of the executive management team, and is very clear on the focus and priority of his division.\n\u201cIT is a service to St John; we\u2019re service providers,\u201d he says. \u201cWe help the ambulance service, the paramedics and the community do their job. They are the real heroes.\u201d\nThe ICT team supports the systems and technology that, in turn, support frontline crews treating and transporting more than 415,000 patients each year. The organisation\u2019s standing in the community is such that it was voted the most trusted charity in the Reader\u2019s Digest Most Trusted Brand Awards this year. Paramedics, meanwhile, were second in the \u2018most trusted professions\u2019 category, next to firefighters.\nAt WHO, a United Nations agency, Catterall led the implementation of a global ERP, private network and unified communications for all staff.\n We\u2019re in a very privileged position as IT people to be able to directly contribute to the public health of New Zealanders. Martin Catterall, St John\nCatterall says St John was interested in his background because the goal was to bring \u2018\u2018best business practice\u201d to the organisation.\n\u201cSt John is migrating from simply being a charity to focusing strongly on patient outcomes in a more driven, more managed, more measured approach,\u201d says Catterall of the organisation, which ranked number 23 in the CIO100,the annual report on the top ICT-using organisations in New Zealand.\n\u201cAnd IT as a service, to that end, needed to be more disciplined and professional than ever before.\u201d\nCatterall explains the distinct differences in his current role and his past role at WHO.\n\u201cWHO was a knowledge-based organisation where we would recommend policies and health information systems to countries,\u201d he states. \u201cMy role did not go down to the national level, it was predominantly international and supporting the organisation.\n\u201cWe were largely focusing on the less developed countries.\nPhoto courtesy of St John We\u2019re service providers. We help the ambulance service, the paramedics, the community do their job. They are the real heroes. Martin Catterall, St John\n\u201cIt\u2019s a much more hands-on public health environment here. In the past, we were talking about numbers, we were talking about statistics, we were talking about tracking the evolution of a disease in a particular country, crossing borders, and so on.\n\u201cHere, it\u2019s about picking up a 111 call and allocating the priority to it and either sending an ambulance to that person, or giving them an alternative recovery path.\u201d\nSt John was Catterall\u2019s first job back in New Zealand after 20 years of international ICT executive roles.\nRelated:St John CIO Martin Catterall talks about the evolving CIO agenda and shares leadership insights from a 25-year career that has brought him across the globe.\nHe graduated from the University of Otago with a Bachelor of Science in 1984 and completed a post-graduate diploma in science a year later. His first IT role was as a programmer analyst for the Department of Labour in Wellington before he moved into database management.\nHe was headhunted from NZ Post by Dairy Farm International in Hong Kong in 1992. In 1996, Catterall moved to Australia, where he became the Asia-Pacific Year\n2000 project manager for Kellogg.\nBefore joining WHO, he was in Malaysia with Kellogg and with Singapore retail chain, Cold Storage, implementing a bespoke ERP system.\nBuilding fences\nCatterall is cognisant of how ICT will work with St John\u2019s 10,000 volunteers across the country.\n\u201cWe need to improve how we relate to our volunteers, how we support them in their fundamental work for the community. And that\u2019s going to need some changes in how we employ technology and how we manage technology across the country,\u201d he says.\nAnother component of the job is working with other emergency services such as the New Zealand Fire Service, Police, Civil Defence and Wellington Free Ambulance Service.\n\u201cWe\u2019re trying to improve the linkages we have with those external stakeholders in emergency services and we\u2019re also trying to look at how we can work with our operational people to improve effectiveness and productivity in the field.\u201d\nMartin Catterall spoke on the evolving CIO agenda at the 2014 CIO100 event. We have a vision of the emergency departments being able to see the location of all of our ambulances and to know what's on board, who\u2019s on board, and how they can be better prepared when the ambulance arrives. Martin Catterall, St John\nRecently, Catterall has been travelling to Christchurch to meet with the heads of emergency organisations involved in setting up the Christchurch Justice and Emergency Services Precinct.\nThe precinct is the first major public building to be built in Christchurch by the government since the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011, and will house all emergency services. These include the Ministry of Justice, Police, Department of Corrections, New Zealand Fire Service and the Christchurch City Council.\nConstruction of the modern complex started in July, and is scheduled to be completed in late 2016.\n\u201cWe have quite a large degree of discussion about how all these different agencies and companies can come together, what can be shared and what can\u2019t, given the high degree of confidentiality and privacy that exists between the different agencies,\u201d says Catterall.\n\u201cThere is a saying, good fences make good neighbours\u2026 but also working on a shared set of commitments gives good progress.\u201d\n\nOn the leading edge\nSt John is currently implementing electronic patient report forms (ePRF), with the aim of improving the quality and safety of the care and services it provides, along with the experience for patients.\nPeter Hoskin, operations subject matter expert at St John New Zealand shows a preview of the new electronic patient report forms that are scheduled to be rolled out next year.\nStaff will have access to clear information that can be linked up with other health providers and shared with agencies such as the Ministry of Health to inform and improve their services.\nAmbulance officers manually fill in about two million pages of paper patient report forms each year. The ePRF project, scheduled to be completed in mid-2015, will replace paper forms with electronic records completed on a portable Samsung tablet device.\n We\u2019re looking at putting wireless technology into every ambulance station, so that while the ambulance is in transit it will be using the 3G network. Then, as it drives into the station, the wireless will take over. Martin Catterall, St John\n\u201cThat\u2019s leading edge for an ambulance service, but once we start capturing that information electronically within the ambulance, our ability to communicate to hospitals, particularly emergency departments, increases dramatically,\u201d says Catterall.\n\u201cWe can now start forwarding information to emergency departments while we\u2019re on route to hospital. We have a vision of the emergency departments being able to see the location of all of our ambulances and to know what\u2019s on board the ambulance, who\u2019s on board, and how they can be better prepared when the ambulance arrives.\n\u201cClearly we communicate with ambulances now through radio or telephone, but when we can start sending more vital sign information electronically, that\u2019s a significant input.\u201d\nThe ambulances have communication hubs, with upgraded mobile data terminals (MDTs) being installed in every vehicle. Paramedics will use the MDTs to communicate their status during a response and whether they are available or not to accept jobs.\nCatterall says this project is scheduled to be completed by early next year. \u201cOnce we\u2019ve rolled out all of that, we\u2019ll be able to add the electronic patient record form application into the devices,\u201d he says.\nAt the moment, St John is going through significant testing with the Android tablet. Each tablet will be inside a rugged case.\n\u201cWe have to prove the application on that tablet and then we have to put theSamsung tablet through a series of robust tests to make sure the tablet can withstand the work environment that we have,\u201d Catterall continues.\n\u201cThen we\u2019ll be dropping it and getting it wet and throwing it around to make sure it can withstand the rigours of operational life. And of course we need to complete the port of the application to the tablet and then go through significant user acceptance testing on that. In the meantime, we\u2019re rolling out the tablet itself to the ambulances.\u201d\nEach ambulance will cost around $250,000 to put on the road when factoring in all the technical and specialist medical equipment, along with a crew who have trained for several years to be able to provide pre-hospital care.\nPhoto courtesy of St John\n\u201cWe\u2019re looking at putting wireless technology into every ambulance station, so that while the ambulance is in transit it will be using the 3G network. Then, as it drives into the station, the wireless will take over.\n\u201cIt\u2019s both a cost saving and a capacity feature,\u201d he explains. \u201cSo when an ambulance gets called out, we\u2019re already downloading information to the MDT (mobile data terminal) before it even leaves the station.\u201d\nCatterall says St John ambulance staff undergo comprehensive first aid and clinical training as a base requirement. Those ranked emergency medical technician (EMT) or higher have completed a national diploma in paramedicine at a tertiary institute.\n\u201cWe have a population that lives off training and knowledge, and many of them are already very technically savvy,\u201d Catterall says. \u201cWe\u2019re looking at a very strong change management process to roll this out.\u201d\n\nMartin Catterall was interviewed for the 2014 leadership edition of CIO New Zealand.\nSend news tips and comments to email@example.com\nFollow Divina Paredes on Twitter: @divinap\nFollow CIO New Zealand on Twitter:@cio_nz\nSign up for CIO newsletters for regular updates on CIO news, views and events.\nJoin us on Facebook.