by Rebecca Merrett

eHealth NSW gets busy on technology rollouts

Aug 29, 20145 mins
Healthcare Industry

eHealth NSW CIO, Michael Walsh, and newly appointed chief clinical information officer, John Lambert, have laid out some of the technology projects they are focusing on this year, as part of the state’s $400 million e-health strategy.

At an AIIA event in Sydney this week, Walsh and Lambert gave an update on clinical portal HealtheNet, an enterprise image repository, incident management system, StaffLink HR system, videoconferencing, and how the organisation is increasing bandwidth.

The HealtheNet portal is a state funded project that links multiple hospital databases to give clinicians a single view of repositories. It also integrates with the national Personally Controlled Electronic Record (PCEHR).

Walsh said he is currently working with the federal government on integrating pathology reports into the PECHR so that clinicians using HealtheNet do not have to re-do recent reports.

“When they [patients] turn up to a hospital, our clinicians would look through HealtheNet to see the most recent pathology reports and they may end up being the day before, which means we don’t have to run them and we reduce costs for ourselves.

“And the patient is benefiting because in actual fact all that information is immediately available to clinicians on either side,” Walsh said.

eHealth NSW is also getting more clinicians involved in the design of projects. Lambert, who has only been in the CCIO role for about a week, was hired to drive clinician engagement.

“One of the things we believed we needed to improve was the connectivity between where e-health was going in relation to its priorities and the clinical workforce.

“The appointment of a chief clinical information officer is really the start of that strengthened partnership … [identifying] where clinicians believe the best benefits are derived in relation to e-health applications,” said Walsh.

“As far as the clinicians are concerned they don’t care what software package they are using. There’s one patient, there’s one record about that patient, and they want to see all of it. And they don’t care how we architecturally deliver that. So we have to design our implementation protocols and our programs to try … to deliver that unified view,” added Lambert.

The enterprise image repository (EIR) project, which allows medical images such as X-rays to be shared among health providers across the state, is close to completion.

“I could be in one district and see a record from a patient that was seen in a totally different district, and it connects those together,” said Lambert.

He added the EIR is not only an image repository but is also part of the enterprise patient registry (EPR), which allows for unique identity management across the whole of NSW.

eHealth NSW also has closed a tender for a state-wide, single incident management system (IMS), and is evaluating different providers.

“I think in the longer term, when we are talking about data analysis and looking at how we deliver care and the quality of care, we need to understand the incidents, where they are happening, on which patients are they occurring, and which clinical domains they are happening in,” said Lambert.

“There’s no point in just thinking this is all data. If it’s not information to clinicians, if it’s not information to system managers, then it’s actually not worth while collecting and providing. It’s information that we are in the business of, not just data,” added Walsh.

StaffLink now has 105,000 NSW Health workers on a single HR information system, with it being rolled out to Ambulance NSW, Health Infrastructure and the Cancer Institute NSW.

Walsh described the system to be a “single point of truth for people identity”, which means eHealth NSW can now move to a single email system, as well as ensure messaging services get delivered to the right people in the right locations. “We can [also] do permissions and security based on the StaffLink system.”

Walsh said having StaffLink as a base to manage individual identities is what is allowing him to start moving applications into the cloud, where data can be automatically populated as new staff come on board or leave.

To support all of the electronic health information systems, eHealth is increasing its bandwidth. It has metropolitan and regional areas covered, and is now focusing on rural areas.

“What we will have in place at the end of this program, towards the middle of next year, is at least 1GB bandwidth between every major site in our system. This means that as we increase reliability on our clinical and corporate systems, we are actually able to deliver that without any interference and restriction in our network performance,” Walsh said.

eHealth is also integrating Skype and MS Lync for videoconferencing, reducing the amount of times staff need to travel between health districts. “It will allow people to be more productive and manage their lives easier,” Walsh said.

Follow Rebecca Merrett on Twitter: @Rebecca_Merrett

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