CIO50 2018 #4: Dr Zoran Bolevich, NSW Health

Dr Zoran Bolevich is leading the digital transformation of an organisation that employs more than 140,000 staff and cares for 7.8 million people in NSW.

Since commencing in the role in mid-2015, Dr Bolevich has created the eHealth Strategy for NSW Health: 2016-2026, which underpins the transformation by guiding eHealth investment, implementation and service delivery.

This is a massive undertaking which involves transitioning 140,000 staff from a system that relies heavily on paper, to a digitally-enabled and integrated platform delivering better patient experiences and quality health outcomes.

Dr Bolevich has led the transformation which includes programs such as the electronic medical health record (eMR) – now live in 159 public hospitals and an electronic medications management (eMeds) module, live in 38 hospitals and growing.

Dr Bolevich tells CIO Australia that what is particularly interesting about technology-led innovation in healthcare at this point in time is the convergence of new policy initiatives, such as value-based healthcare on one hand, and digital technologies such as cloud computing, smart devices and artificial intelligence on the other.

“Digital technologies are becoming an accelerator for significant changes that are being pursued by many health systems, including NSW Health.

“These technologies are becoming both an enabler and driver of transformative changes in healthcare. They provide a greater focus on outcomes and experience of care, empower patients and consumers to be proactive participants in their health and wellbeing, enable rapid translation of latest evidence into clinical practice, and turbocharge medical research with data analytics,” he says.

As a result, Dr Bolevich says NSW Health now has more confidence in implementing these technologies in complex healthcare organisations, having learned the importance of change management, clinician and patient engagement and good governance.

“In NSW, we aim to create, by 2026, a digitally-enabled and integrated healthcare system that is patient-centric and clinician-friendly,” he says.

Leading a team of more than 1,200 staff, Dr Bolevich is delivering the e-health strategy, streamlining the governance of eHealth NSW’s key programs and activities, and developing an effective and customer-focused health IT organisation.

A key part of this strategy is strengthening eHealth NSW’s partnerships with industry, research organisations and academia. An innovation portal has been established under Dr Bolevich’s leadership with its main objective to enable innovative solutions to the challenges faced by NSW Health.

“A key goal for eHealth NSW is the processes that identify, deliver, maintain, optimise and secure ICT solutions,” he says. “Adopting the ICT investment prioritisation framework is ensuring that the high priority ICT solutions are funded, developed and delivered.”

A rollout of unprecedented scale

The program is unique due to its size and magnitude and the scale of implementations across the NSW health network is unprecedented. NSW is the largest public health system in Australia, caring for a population that comprises one-third of Australia’s total.

By the end of 2017/18, the NSW Health’s eMR system was live at 159 hospitals covering 20,000 hospital beds across NSW Health, supporting safer care for more than 1.5 million patients annually, Dr Bolevich says.

An electronic medications manual (eMeds) module in the eMR reduces the risk of medication errors. By June, eMeds was live at 38 NSW public hospitals, serving 750,000 patients annually.

The electronic intensive care system provides integrated statewide clinical information to improve patient safety and support better decision making for critically ill patients. By the end of the financial year, the system had been deployed to 230 beds in 11 hospitals across five local health districts. Almost 7,000 patients had been treated in those beds.

All statewide ICT infrastructure from three health data centres has also been moved to one government data centre. 260 applications (including 9,300 databases and 3,300 terabytes of application data) and 1,883 servers were migrated to the new data centre.

Other rollouts under Dr Bolevich’s leadership include a new rostering system for 100,000 clinical staff; a new recruitment and onboarding system; a wide area network, which has been delivered to 184 rural sites; and a state-wide email platform with 160,000 unique staff identities matched and deployed. A rural e-health program is assisting the delivery of ICT infrastructure to 17,000 staff caring for 1.3 million people in rural and remote facilities.

Greater demand for a strategist

Dr Bolevich tells CIO Australia that in health, there’s a trend of the traditional, core technology-based leadership role of the CIO being supplemented by an even greater demand for strategic leadership.

Tech chiefs need to partner with boards and senior executives to craft long-term transformation strategies and understand change management in complex organisations. They need to possess the ability to engage clinicians and consumers in compelling and meaningful ways, he says.

“We are also seeing a shift away from ‘owning running a technology stack’ towards procuring services and commissioning for business outcomes enabled by technology,” he says.

“Forging alliances and maintaining long-term partnerships within the ICT industry, research community, funders, policy markers and other stakeholders is becoming as important as the ability to deliver and run local IT operations.

“Cybersecurity also adds another layer and complexity to the role. The chief digital officer is an interesting new job title and I’m still trying to figure out what it entails. It sounds like it’s complementary to the CIO role and possibly an integral part of the CIO’s senior team."

Byron Connolly

Copyright © 2018 IDG Communications, Inc.

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