by Jennifer O'Brien

Updated: Peter O’Halloran quits National Blood Authority to lead ACT Health

Aug 31, 2016
Technology Industry

After nine years at the National Blood Authority (NBA), multi-award winning CIO Peter O’Halloran is leaving the position and accepted a role as CIO of ACT Health.

O’Halloran, who made significant inroads transforming the Australian blood sector, managed the development and implementation of BloodNet, Australia’s online blood supply chain system used by over 400 hospitals daily. He also managed the insourcing and redevelopment of the Australian Bleeding Disorders Registry (ABDR), a clinical registry for people with bleeding disorders in Australia.

O’Halloran, who initially joined NBA in 2008 as director of corporate services and secretariat, was quickly appointed in 2009 as NBA’s inaugural CIO, responsible for the provision of ICT services for NBA officers (60) and external users of NBA systems (5,000).

In July 2012, he was appointed the executive director and CIO enabling the services group at NAB. In that role he was responsible for the provision of services to health providers, ICT services (to 7,000 users in the Australian blood sector and 80 NBA staff) and corporate support. A multi-award winning agent of change, with 13 awards under his belt, O’Halloran said he “thrived on redesigning and reforming program and service delivery to challenge preconceived ideas and methods to actually improve outcomes for Australian society.”

In his new role, which commences September 8, he will work under the director general to provide high-level leadership and advice on policies, planning, developing and implementing innovative strategies in relation to ICT, and initiatives around health information clinical records management.

He replaces the position left vacant by Judy Redmond late last year, who was pivotal in the implementation of an e-health strategy.

ACT Health had put the call out in June for a new CIO, who would oversee the development of a ten year ICT strategy. “The CIO will act autonomously and make decisions at the operational level on the strategic and tactical planning, development, evaluation, and coordination of the ICT systems for the health care network in ACT Health,” the department said at the time.

Reflecting on his time as NBA CIO, O’Halloran told CIO Australia his time at the organisation was very rewarding as he was given the opportunity to reform the Australian blood sector.

“The key system which most people know and use everyday is Bloodnet, which has enabled us to deliver a range of supply chain efficiencies. . . The data that we obtained through the system has enabled us to halve the amount of wastage of blood products in hospitals – and that decreases the need for donors, ensuring their previous gift of life is actually maintained. And ensuring we always have the right product, at the right time for the right patient – and that is a powerful thing.

“When Bloodnet was put into place, it replaced everything from phone calls to faxes to emails – everything including carrier pigeons were involved in the mix. We automated that supply chain in a very simple, but effective manner. And that is one of my proudest achievements at the NBA: developing and rolling that system out and working with staff directly in laboratories and hospitals and in state and territory health departments to actually build something that would actually meet their needs.”

Asked what it was like to be the NBA’s inaugural CIO, he said it was daunting at the time.

“It was a surprise. It was the first pure dedicated IT role I’d had at that stage. It was 12 -13 years that I’d last had one that was pure ICT. But it was exciting. I could go out and work with each of the stakeholder groups that we were trying to support. Over the next five to six years, we built the internal IT capacity up from one staff member up to a team of about 30 now. So it was a long journey, but one that I measure not so much on the money we spent or the staff we had, but rather the outcomes that we delivered.”

Looking to his next challenge at ACT Health, he said it is an exciting opportunity.

“With the NBA I was involved with a whole range of quite cutting edge systems that transformed how we supplied blood and blood products and assisted patients. With ACT Health I get a much bigger remit in terms of being responsible for all of the IT systems and services from the full extent of the patient journey. So I’m looking forward to working with the team there to improve the services and support that we provide to both clinicians and the patients.”

But he said it was a hard decision to leave NBA. “It will be without a doubt the highlight and the most enjoyable role I’ve ever had in my career, working with amazing people and achieving great outcomes. At the end of the day, what made me decide to move to ACT Health was the realisation that I could build on what I’d done at the NBA and hopefully impact a much greater range of patients and clinicians at ACT Health.”