by Divina Paredes

CIO 100: Waikato District Health Board

Mar 24, 2016
Technology Industry

MAINTAINING A FOCUS on accessibility, reliability and affordability whilst driving innovation, progression to an electronic health record clinical enablement is what CIO Geoff King says is the major focus for ICT at the Waikato District Health Board.

The DHB is one of the largest of the 20 DHBs in New Zealand. It covers an area from the Coromandel in the north down to near Mt Ruapehu in the south, a large portion of which is rural area. The health board operates a tertiary hospital and four rural hospitals, and offers a wide range of community-based and health promotion services to more than 375,000 people. This is done either directly or by funding and contracting other providers.

The DHB is on an active push to modernise and broaden the scope of healthcare services through technology. At any time, the IT team has 80 projects and over 90 minor initiatives at various stages of delivery.

The focus over the last 12 months has been on upgrading core applications, to address currency issues, capacity constraints, and process automation, whilst maintaining a focus on both improving the cost and reliability of delivery.

In the next year there will be continued focus on clinical enablement and efficiency, predominantly in the areas of mobility, application modernisation, and automation.

King says there will be ongoing investment in progressing towards a fully electronic health record and the integration both between providers and between regions to these electronic health records.

Progressing to regional clinical applications across the five Midland DHBs continues to be a high priority for the DHB. At the same time, the DHB recognises the changing demands on healthcare and the need to invest in virtual healthcare, with a comprehensive program aiming to remove the boundaries of ‘bricks and mortar’ to address an ageing population and workforce through the use of technology.

The program leverages previous investments in the use of technologies like telehealth to reach more people, he states. Telehealth provides safe videoconferencing between patients and specialists, thus making healthcare accessible to people in the rural communities and for those who have difficulty traveling.