by Divina Paredes

CIO100 2018 #31-100: Stella Ward, Canterbury District Health Board

Mar 28, 2018
Artificial IntelligenceAugmented RealityBig Data

Stella Ward holds two major portfolios in the Canterbury District Health Board (DHB).

One is the information services group and the other is executive director for Allied Health, a joint position with Canterbury and West Coast DHB. She provides leadership and governance for the allied health, technical and scientific professions which include 42 different disciplines.

Digital transformation is a key theme in both of these roles.

The Canterbury District Health Board, she says, is currently developing its digital strategy and reorganising the information services group.

There are a number of large scale implementations underway simultaneously, she says.

These include the implementation of the South Island Patient Information Care System; SAP upgrade; the rollout of HealthOne an electronic health record across the whole health system in the South Island; core switch upgrade; mobility and infrastructure technologies for new hospitals and outpatient facilities; e-vitals solution for nursing (Patientrack); significant e-medications programme; SIP implementation and IAAS migration with development of a Hybrid cloud strategy as well as enhancement of analytical and big data analytics with tools from partnerships with GE Healthcare.

“This is a systematic and large scale digital transformation that is a core component of our health systems integrated health system vision,” she explains.

This transformation programme needs to align with other core infrastructural and operational developments such as the design, build and delivery of new hospitals; and the response to a growing demand from clinicians, business leaders and the community to have greater access to information in real time and on mobile devices.

“We have implemented ‘lean agile’ methodology to support the ISG team members to break the work down into capabilities that can be delivered faster to provide value as well as redefine the programme and project governance discipline required across the business,” she says.

In addition, she reinforced the need for strong clinical and business leadership of the programme by appointing key clinical champions and reporting regularly to the executive management team and relevant Board committees.

We have an ‘innovation culture’ that has been developed over several years that has always seen technology as an enabler of achieving our health system vision, she says.

“As each new technology has been developed and embedded, the confidence of our clinicians and community has grown and now we can tackle or respond to significant disruption much faster and on a larger scale.”

“We have also supported this culture with a business unit that supports our innovation and collaboration with industry and as such we have built the capability to innovate and commercialise at scale.”

She says the team is using a range of approaches to innovation that includes hackathons, working with startups, and partnerships with large vendors, such as Orion Health, Lightfoot and Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

The Christchurch Hospital, for instance, partnered with GE to see how much of the inhalants in their anaesthesia machines are used in procedures. This was part of a global-first pilot, where data from the machines was analysed in near real-time by GE data scientists in the US.

“Because we are open to working with technology that is in an alpha or beta state, we have gained the confidence of the global companies as well as the local startups and as such we see technology earlier and have the ability to shape how it is developed for use within our industry,” says Ward.

“As an example, we have developed with a startup Sense Medical a task management tool with built in analytics that has significantly improved the length of stay within our surgical services.”

The DHB also participates in the annual GovHack in Wellington and is working with the University of Canterbury on a programme called the Kickstarter weekend, which is similar to a hackathon.

Ward says the DHB is also looking at strengthening its relationship with Ara Polytechnic, in particular working with the ICT graduate school for an internship programme.

As for her greatest career lesson as a CIO, she says: “It is not about technology, it is about what technology delivers.

“And, if you focus on the outcome, you will be more successful. If you focus on technology for technology’s sake, you are doomed to fail.”