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Health Procurement Plans Reveal Major E-Health Tenders on the Way

by Kristen Hammond •
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The Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA) is clearly notching closer to the procurement stage of the much anticipated electronic health care project, with the publication of procurement plans in December of the two final planks in the Personally Controlled Electronic Health Record (PCEHR) project sourcing strategy. 

The procurement plans suggest that DoHA, via the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) will issue Requests for Tender (RFTs) for the National Infrastructure Partner and the National Change and Adoption Partner sometime in Quarter 3 of 2010-11.

The PCEHR project, which is part of the wider National E-Health Strategy, was developed by Deloitte in 2008.

The procurements are in line with the PCEHR system’s sourcing strategy, as outlined at the PCEHR Industry Briefing by DHA on 17 January 2011 for RFT 217/1011 – Benefits and Evaluation Partner.  

A key slide in the PCEHR overview provided at that Briefing shows the relationship between the Benefits and Realisation Partner, the National Infrastructure Partner and the National Change and Adoption Partner, to both NEHTA and to DoHA. 

Under the arrangements, NEHTA will have a managing agent role and be responsible for overseeing the operational contracts associated with the PCEHR program.

The National Infrastructure Partner will be responsible for the design, build and integration of the PCEHR national infrastructure.   At a time when a number of big ICT projects in Canberra have either been completed or are winding down from their peak, this will be the single biggest opportunity in the market in some time and will be hotly contested by those companies with strong application development and systems integration backgrounds.

The National Change and Adoption Partner will develop a national coordination strategy to encourage adoption of the PCEHR system.  

These new opportunities mark a substantial year of ICT procurement for DoHA, which has released five requests for tenders and one expression of interest (EOI) in 2010-11.  Three relate to the National e-Health Strategy:

  • Two RFTs were for the evaluation of the e-health readiness of Australia’s allied health professional sector (published in November 2010)
  • The third, an RFT for a Benefits and Evaluation Partner for PCEHR, was released in late-December 2010.

Procurement for the PCEHR initiative began in 2009, when DoHA contracted with APIS Consulting Group for project management on e-health technology.  A year later, DoHA again contracted with APIS to ‘develop a sourcing strategy for the personally controlled electronic health record’.  The 2010 $321,201 contract appears to have been a step in the development of the e-health project, with the ‘above-the-line’ advisory services flagging the procurements to come.

The development of a sourcing strategy was followed several months later by the release of the aforementioned RFT for a Benefits and Evaluation Partner for the Build and Rollout of the program.  As Intermedium reported, the tender, which closes 11 February 2011, requires the Benefits and Evaluation Partner to undertake a variety of tasks related to the PCEHR Program, including:

  • Developing and delivering a Benefits Realisation and Evaluation Framework and a program monitoring and measurement capability;
  • Imparting thorough analysis and evaluation; and
  • Providing complementary research capabilities for gathering information relevant to the build and roll-out of the PCEHR initiative.  

Intermedium’s budget IT  tool reveals that the National Health and Hospitals Network: E-Health – Personally Controlled Electronic Health Records initiative was allocated $466.7 million over two years from 2010-11. According to information on the budget measure, the secure, online PCEHR system would allow improved access to health care information and is to be implemented by 2012-13.

The PCEHR budget information also indicates that State and Territory governments would be required to continue investing in core health information systems and complementary projects in order to ready themselves for the national e-Health initiative.

The ramping up of Australia’s PCEHR project is in line with global trends, with a similar initiative currently being implemented in Singapore. As reported by AustralianIT, Singapore’s National e-Health Records Project (NEHR) is part of the ‘one Singaporean, one health record’ vision, which will consolidate the details of 5 million citizens.

The composition of the group of suppliers brought together by Accenture, the prime company in Singapore’s NEHR project, reads like a ‘who’s who’ of existing suppliers to the Federal Government. Of the companies, which include Orion, IBM, Oracle and Hewlett-Packard, only Orion is not currently a supplier to the Federal Government.

According to Intermedium’s newly released Top 100 Suppliers for 2009-10, IBM was the number one supplier to the Federal ICT market for that year, with Hewlett-Packard Enterprise Services in 13th place and Oracle 15th.

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