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eHealth and new hospital infrastructure top the tech agenda at Queensland Health

by Kristen Hammond •
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Queensland Health’s Information Division has given industry members a valuable insight into the technology-related priorities of the Department and its ICT procurement processes at its Partners in Technology Briefing, held on 4 March 2011.

At the top of the Division’s list of priorities for the coming year are eHealth projects, payroll technology and service delivery reforms, and ICT infrastructure.

Investment in ICT infrastructure was a key focus of the briefing, with Rick Mossop, Senior Director of Infrastructure, outlining Queensland Health’s current and future procurement processes in growth areas, such as eHealth and new hospital infrastructure. 

According to the Briefing, infrastructure investment within Queensland Health currently operates on a two-year rolling replacement program, with new infrastructure procured through standard budget processes and hospital-specific infrastructure sourced through the new hospitals capital program.

With eHealth a priority at the Department, infrastructure investment is focused on the deployment of integrated electronic health records and includes:

  • Wireless capability and related network infrastructure upgrades;
  • Single sign-on, rapid sign-on and context management;
  • Increased scalability/resiliency of the clinical data repository; and
  • Provision of end-user devices for clinicians.

Longer-term ICT infrastructure investment will also encompass enterprise directory, terminology and identification services.

Queensland Health also indicated a future need for investment in infrastructure assets and services to “support the building of modern, digitally-enabled hospitals”. This would include:

  • Converged networks;
  • Integrated building management, administrative and potentially clinical systems (e.g. patient entertainment systems);
  • Health service delivery at the point of care; and
  • Location services.

The Department will be seeking ICT infrastructure that can be easily integrated with other building support services, and a “rational division of responsibility for infrastructure delivery between QH and the building contractor”.

Management of agency-supplier relationships also emerged as a crucial issue. Queensland Health experienced a high profile payroll project issue in mid-2010, which saw the Department issuing a ‘show cause’ notice to the vendor and refusing to pay $3.3 million in outstanding costs. To alleviate future issues of this kind, Queensland Health aims to better manage supplier relationships, and is seeking to encourage early industry engagement, in-built contractual flexibility for end-to-end services and the proactive management of contracts, including clear focus on mutual interests and performance expectations.

The Briefing also indicated that several areas of reform are being pursued within the information services division, including service delivery, workforce capability and more efficient management of the relationship between Queensland Health, its suppliers and the ICT industry.   

Phil Woolley, Executive Director of ICT Service Delivery, suggested reform of the current service delivery model has been motivated by continued change and growth within the business, including the ‘24x7’ nature of the industry. The current model, which has been in place for the last five years, has failed to keep up with the increased dependency on technology in the healthcare industry and the development of initiatives like eHealth, along with changes within the workforce, such as skills shortages.

ICT workforce capability will also be reformed, with resourcing models and performance management processes aiming to establish an appropriate mix of permanent, temporary and contract staff to meet the growing demand for ICT services.

Woolley indicated that Queensland Health would seek to establish a centralised point of contact for the ICT industry, thus providing a structured, managed approach to industry engagement and contract management. By pursuing a centralised, ‘single point-of-call’ model, the Department aims to foster positive supplier relationships and better ascertain Queensland Health’s ICT needs at any given time.  

Queensland Health separated from Queensland’s whole-of-government shared service project in December 2010, when it was announced that the Department, along with the Department of Education and Training, would be responsible for their own finance and HR/payroll business applications. 

Queensland Health’s information service division comprises of 45,000 desktops and 56,000 computer devices and employs by 1400 staff.


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