SAP signs $US2m NZ hospital deal

Healthlink South's new information management system, to be contracted to SAP New Zealand, is about knowledge management and patient care, said CIO John Emerson.

Healthlink South - which is an annual $100 million (US$51 million) business - is the first hospital to implement the $4 million system in New Zealand. "The system will enable us to put into place advanced case management - knowledge management," said Emerson.

It will allow those who have the authority to do so, to easier access patients' information. This information could also serve as a reference by health care providers for other patients with similar symptoms, he says.

Currently Healthlink South cannot meet some of the required national specifications, or support clinicians with appropriate information systems. "Our current systems are older, expensive to run and were expected to be temporary," he said.

SAP New Zealand has been awarded the contract including implementation. About 800 hospitals around the world use the SAP Healthlink system. The contract is performance based.

Healthlink South chose SAP because of its extensive functionality and "it has the best architecture, in that it is the most open", said Emerson.

"We are very strong in the community health sector and the open architecture will allow us to become more closely aligned with other providers. There's a whole bunch of systems out there, so by going on Internet standards we can work through those," he said.

Emerson said this project is being driven by clinicians and their need to have an information management system that helps improve their ability to care for patients.

The system also has a world class security system that is crucial for health care providers. "Our patients must be totally confident their information is absolutely secure. "The system has a lot of in-built security, for example, you have to ask for the patients permission to add the information to the system," said Emerson.

The rollout begins in March and will take 12 to 18 months to complete. Most of the technology that will support the new information system is already in place.

Cardinal Jade and Deloitte were among 14 consulting companies who put forward tenders for the contract. Healthlink South is a specialist Health and Hospital Services provider and provides extensive specialist care for people with mental illness, for older people and for those with an intellectual disability.

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