Acquisition drives Healthe Care IT transformation

12 disparate patient management systems to be replaced

Acquisition has brought growth benefits but added an IT headache for Australian private health provider Healthe Care.

Faced with the challenge of trying to unite multiple facilities to create a more efficient business and provide improved customer service, the provider is now rolling out a common patient management system across 12 hospitals.

So far the system is in two of its hospitals with a view to completion in 2011. The move follows Definity Consulting conducting an IT architecture survey in 2009.

One of Definity's recommendations was to streamline the delivery of IT services by outsourcing IT support under a single managed services agreement.

This meant finding a managed services partner to handle the help desk, provide escalated on-site support for more complex queries and oversee application and hardware vendor support.

This led to Healthe Care outsourcing its patient administration systems to Applaud, an existing help desk services supplier.

“Rather than have disparate systems across each site we wanted to have common systems for the purposes of developing management reporting across the network and be able to develop improvement in terms of business intelligence,” said CIO, Phillip Hurley.

In August, Applaud began providing support for Healthe Care's 1,100 computer users and 630 desktop machines across 12 hospitals, corporate office, nursing and workplace health offices.

Assets were audited and a health check performed on the systems to ensure that all were in working order before responsibility for support was handed over.

To date, he said the two hospitals have experienced a significant improvement in process management.

Another outcome has been access to a broader skills base.

“Our IT department has gone from around five staff to 40 staff, because all the resources of Applaud now apply to the Healthe Care account. It has reduced our exposure when people are sick or on holidays and we no longer have the obligation to pay for training.”

Outsourcing was not an issue for Hurley as he had previously worked for companies that outsourced IT.

“The preferred model was to put IT under a managed services agreement and leave it to someone else. Healthe Care Australia is in the health business, not the IT business.”

Hurley said it is currently focusing on the implementation with Applaud but it has more IT projects coming up in the future.

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

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