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DHBs get approval for joint ICT venture

DHBs get approval for joint ICT venture: HealthIntelligence

Taranaki DHB and Capital & Coast DHB have received approval from the Minister of Health to work together on Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in a joint venture named HealthIntelligence.

HealthIntelligence is a limited liability company that will focus on providing ICT services to the two DHBs, with a particular focus on the management and development of their computing facilities.

Margot Mains, Chief Executive of Capital & Coast DHB said today: "As health-care becomes more and more information dependent, opportunities to improve health outcomes and smooth processes through the use of technology continue to present themselves,” said Ms Mains.

“Over time there will be improvements in the way that requests are logged and services are delivered as processes are standardised. We anticipate a saving between the DHBs of around $4 million in cost avoidance over the next 5 years".

Taranaki District Health Board Chief Executive Tony Foulkes agreed. “The demand on information services resources continues to escalate as a result,” he said. “DHBs anticipate that effective ICT support over the coming five years will result from improvements brought about through shared effort."

The ICT staff of the two DHBs have been working together informally since May last year to work toward creating common information systems for the more than 5,000 people who use DHB computers.

Front-line ICT support personnel from the joint venture provide a high level of support to about 1,500 users at Taranaki DHB and about 3,500 users at Capital and Coast DHB.

HealthIntelligence's main office is at the Ewart Hospital in Newtown in Wellington - and the Business Solutions, Technology and Delivery Groups are led by three managers with staff in Wellington, Keneperu, and New Plymouth. A local manager is employed at New Plymouth to liaise with staff and management in Taranakis and to ensure that queries are directed to the right place for resolution. Front-line support staff will continue to work from the locations where they are currently employed at New Plymouth and in Wellington.

The joint venture is currently supporting 27 healthcare sites including the two DHBs and two allied health providers. It hopes to provide services to more healthcare organisations and other District Health Boards who are interested in minimising the cost and improving the quality of their ICT.

Patients, consumers, providers and DHB employees who use the Internet will benefit from collaboration tools such as video conferencing and instant messaging. The facilitation of collaboration and inclusion in health-care is a primary focus of HealthIntelligence.

Interim General Manager, André Snoxall said: "HealthIntelligence would like to develop expertise in the remote management of healthcare technology based on Internet Protocol. We would like to be able to support people in getting the most from their Internet and other technology investments".

"Doctors are already able to securely access HealthIntelligence systems and information from their private rooms or home offices or from other DHBs via the www.HealthIntelligence.org.nz Internet site." said Mr Snoxall. "This allows doctors and other healthcare professionals more freedom to choose when and where they work, and removes dependence on physical DHB premises for information needs".

"District nurses and other community based healthcare providers are able to access systems and information from the same Internet site in their cars (using mobile phone technologies), or from their own homes before commencing travel at the start of the day." he said. "This is expected to change the way that health care professionals working for the DHBs think about their work patterns".

The new systems will enable school dental services to securely access systems and information using existing computer facilities in government and private schools where this is practical and appropriate.

The ability to use existing, Internet connected, non-DHB computers to access information and systems that is normally only available on DHB computers is seen as a major step forward for the health sector. It will allow resources to be used more effectively and services to be provided more efficiently. The move provides support to government initiatives to expand broadband access, such as project Probe.

"The District Health Boards are striving to promote communication, collaboration, and inclusion amongst people involved in health-care. Over the coming months the Intranet and Internet sites at both DHBs will be dramatically overhauled with the introduction of search facilities and the provision of more interactive content," said Mr Snoxall.

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