EDS makes play for HealthConnect data

When it comes to bidding for federal government contracts, EDS has traditionally gone for the multiyear, whole-of-government, mammoth deals that were typical of the mid to late 1990s.

But if the outsourcer wants to win health contracts, it will need to ensure its offerings fit federal Health Minister Tony Abbott's HealthConnect vision.

Outlining the government's plans for a national electronic health record system, Abbott has said preference will be given to those who take a more 'modest' approach to patient rebates.

Earlier this month, Abbott ruled out multimillion dollar deals for huge IT systems which patients may not even use.

The government landscape has changed considerably in recent years and this will shape the deliverables set out in a raft of IT health contracts up for grabs in the next 24 months.

But EDS believes HealthConnect will create great opportunities for outsourcing despite public fears surrounding data privacy.

EDS Asia Pacific healthcare leader Mettina Pavlakis said the oursourcer specializes in the pay-per-transaction model that Abbott is proposing.

She said the company has a history of working at the transaction level, adding that outsourcing has a key role to play in the future of HealthConnect, especially when it comes to the states handing over patient data.

At the same time, Pavlakis said, because Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland are taking a shared services approach to health, namely consolidating back-office functions, there will be plenty of outsourcing opportunities within the next five years.

She said outsourcers can provide real benefits because they can stand by assurances on service levels, returns and financial models.

Steps are already underway to implement data standards and Pavlakis said EDS is keen to provide the back-office support to realize the HealthConnect vision.

"Regional health records will be in place in the next three to five years; we are ready to go," she said.

Proposing a partnership model, Pavlakis said the government will own the assets and data but outsourcers can complete the picture by undertaking consolidation and collection.

However, not everyone believes the government will be willing to engage in outsourcing when it comes to patient records and data.

Christine Axton, technology practice leader with research firm Ovum, said when it comes to HealthConnect there is a real fear of data being offshored in the long term.

Axton said all the service level agreements and data assurances in the world cannot guarantee the protection of sensitive records.

"If the government makes an error with the data then potentially it can loose power. [However,] for an outsourcing company like EDS, if something happens it could lose the entire contract so keeping service level agreements is of utmost importance," she added.

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