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NT Health struggles to secure suitable suppliers

by Justin Hendry •
Free resource

Despite securing 2015-16 budget funding and commencing procurement activities, the Northern Territory Department of Health is struggling to secure suitable suppliers for ICT projects crucial to the delivery of eHealth across the jurisdiction.

The Core Clinical System Renewal Program (CCSRP) – the largest ICT activity in the NT for 2015-16 – intends to enable a mobile workforce, reduce technology ownership expenses, and align 80 NT Health systems with contemporary clinical and business practices.

NT Health secured $10 million in the 2015-16 Budget towards planning, analysis and market testing and conducted a Briefing to Industry in June 2015. The program has three foundation projects with procurement to be conducted through “a selection of public RFQ/RFT’s and existing Panel and NTG Contracts.” The projects include:

  • Mobile Workforce;
  • Health Information Platform;  and
  • CCSR Programme resourcing.

Following market sounding, NT Health issued an RFT for a three-year Enterprise Architecture and Test Integration Specialist Panel. The Panel is part of a broader program to replace core clinical information systems at NT Health, according to a spokesperson. 

However, all tenders for the Panel were declined, the spokesperson said. “NT Department of Health is currently reviewing the scope and structure of the original Request for Tender with a view to proceeding back out to open tender in the near future with both revised documents and a revised market approach.”

NT Health has also since issued a RFQ for the Provision of a Consultant to Define and Deliver Request for Tender Deliverables for the CCSRP, and a Select RFQ for the provision of a Lead Advisor for the Procurement of an eHealth Solution for the CCSRP. No vendors have been selected for both tenders at this stage.

Other NT Health ICT activities for 2015/16

NT Health also received $2.8 million in 2015-16 to upgrade the master patient index system and $1.8 million to build a new enterprise procurement system.  In addition to these budget funded projects, the NT’s other ICT activities and costings for 2015/16 include:

  • $1.16 million for an Information Services Project Management Office;
  • $890,000 for the development of an Electronic Records Management System;
  • $830,000 for ICT communications infrastructure upgrades;
  • $800,000 for an Enterprise Hospital Billing Solution; and
  • $900,000 for “other small projects,” including data warehouse upgrades.

So far, the only initiative from the above list that has approached the market and closed without cancellation is the RFT for the Supply and Implementation of an Enterprise Master Patient Index System. The closing supplier list for the three-year contract includes Ascribe, IBM, Intech Solutions and NEC, however a vendor is yet to be chosen.

NT Health had issued an RFT for an electronic Supply Chain Management System (SCMS) in August 2015 to standardise their healthcare procurement processes, but this has since been cancelled. The NT Health spokesperson said that all responses from the open market had been declined but that a select vendor approach was underway and due to close soon.

The SCMS will be used to comply with national eHealth standards, in line with the Federal Government’s eHealth agenda, situating the NT as the fifth state or territory to introduce eProcurement solutions, along with Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and the ACT.

A spokesperson for the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA), which will become the Australian Commission for eHealth (ACeH) from July 2015, told in Intermedium in August 2015 that “successful implementation of eProcurement relies on the capability of the organisations procurement/supply system.”

Health, and in particular eHealth, has been the NT’s standout winner for ICT project funding in two of the three consecutive state budgets. In 2015-16 NT Health allocated $58.4 million to ICT (4.4% of total agency budget), spent $43.4 million on ICT in 2014-15 and allocated $48.7 million in 2013-14.

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