Senior IS executive: Johan Vendrig, GM — information services
Address: Unisys House, level 2, 650 Great South Road, Penrose, Auckland
Website:www.healthalliance.co.nz"IT is vital to improving the quality of healthcare services through efficient capture and sharing of clinical knowledge."
Information technology plays an ever increasing role in the planning, funding and delivery of health care services. healthAlliance represents IS services for the Northern Region District Health Boards and selected IS services to a number of other health providers and agencies, including, Health Benefits, Auckland Regional Public Health Service, and Taranaki DHB.
The healthAlliance shared service was formed in March 2011, and was followed by a significant restructure in October 2011 to integrate the three IT teams that came together. Subsequently, the financial year beginning July 2011 has had a strong focus on integration and standardisation of IT service management processes to achieve operational excellence and ensure IT services are safe (patient focused) and reliable (clinician/customer focused).
The scale and complexity of the Northern Region’s information systems are ever increasing, and to ensure cost increases can be contained to an acceptable level, DHBs are committed to aligning processes and consolidating systems. Due to the levels of change that is required to achieve this, it will be an ongoing challenge.
Another challenge for the organisation is in managing the proliferation of devices brought into the work environment by staff. “We have to manage the security and the network. We are wary of patient information in loading these devices,” says Johan Vendrig, general manager, information services. “At the moment, staff can only access email. We point out that they have a personal accountability to protect people’s privacy and health information and, hence, they need to act responsibly. For example, they need to have a pass code on their phones. Remote access to clinical systems is managed through application virtualisation and VPN connections.”
ICT budgets and project numbers are up marginally for year two of operation. “Although funding in the health sector is very tight, health providers acknowledge the critical role IT plays in changing models of care — hence, health boards are committed to reprioritising funding to fund additional IT investment,” Vendrig explains. IT staff numbers are also expected to rise slightly this year. The volume of projects, as well as the need to invest in more resilience in processes and systems, will drive an increase of operational expenditure.
“The health industry is constantly evolving to deliver better, more efficient and more convenient healthcare services while living within our means. To achieve this, the health IT sector is moving towards a patient-centred service delivery model,” says Vendrig. “A delivery model such as this requires information to be shared and organised around the patient, across a wide range of health providers. IT is vital to improving the quality of healthcare services through efficient capture and sharing of clinical knowledge, and to make this knowledge available in an actionable format at the point of care.”