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Counties Manukau Health is going from strength to strength. No matter how tough it gets we’re performing well on a national scale and have worked hard to maintain a strong financial future. To perform well in the future however we need to be ahead of the game. Healthy Together 2020 outlines a plan to transform the way we deliver quality healthcare to our growing and aging population across Counties Manukau. The work undertaken by Project SWIFT last year helped us identify how IT can support that transformation by assisting and improving the way health practitioners and care providers deliver services to patients and communities.

Dieting is a fantastic analogy when it comes to change within our organisation. In order to lose weight generally people do one of two things – they endlessly go for an instant solution in the form of a miracle diet or pill which is never going to work, or they change their behaviour in regards to diet and exercise. It’s the same when we talk about IT: People instantly gravitate to miracle solutions. But buying a new IT system and implementing it would be a mistake. International research tells us that the better approach is to decide what your business will become and then employ IT to support it. Project SWIFT was never an instant miracle solution, it was just the beginning!

When the SWIFT team interviewed people last year they found that people know there’s information available but are having difficulty accessing it, if at all. Our staff know they’re asking people to repeat information and in some instances to repeat certain tests. Our patients said they talked about the same thing over and over again to different clinicians while primary care physicians said it’s difficult to find the right contact people or get information from within hospitals.

We’re all working across a ‘whole of delivery’ approach but our information is not connected. We have silos of information within the hospital, primary care and community and we all, including consumers, want access to better information to support patients and promote self-management.

Project SWIFT has been an 18-month journey and understandably we all now want to ‘just get on with it’, but we needed this time to find out what’s required and to explore and assess how technology might best be employed to create, define and deliver information. It’s been a long but necessary journey. We wanted to get it right, to make sure it fit with regional and national strategies and to make sure that we didn’t design for today but for tomorrow.

Over the last year we concentrated on laying IT infrastructure building blocks to prepare for the future: We rolled out staff and patient wifi, introduced web browser security initiatives (safe mobile communications policy, safe IT policy), provided the vehicle for safe USB encryption, made sure our patient information is safe and carried out multiple systems upgrades to support existing platforms.

Late 2015 the Counties Manukau Board approved the first of a two-stage IT investment to support Healthy Together 2020 core strategic programmes (Enhanced Primary Care, Community Health Services Integration and Patient and Whaanau Engagement), to meet National IT Health Strategy requirements and accelerate improvements in acute services care.

This year we’ll update our measurement and performance tools and introduce whiteboards, mobile applications for rostering and systems that minimise documentation. We’ll also retire old pagers and replace them with something smarter and probably younger than many of our staff. Hospital laboratory orders, regional radiology orders and Medchart will be moved to digital platforms, and iPM and Concerto will be upgraded. We’re getting on with it but the reality is that we can’t do it all. When it comes to IT we have to prioritise.

We’ll continue to contribute to the Northern Electronic Health Record (NEHR) implementation study and will keep working with our clinicians, medical staff, health partners and communities to determine the next IT investment stage. In a year’s time we plan to be in a good position to comment on the Ministry of Health’s digital hospital blueprint for a nationwide electronic health record (EHR).

These are exciting and changing times. A change team will support CM Health’s transformation but ultimately it’s up to us – to commit to being the best we can be and to embrace changes in behaviour that support that commitment. It won’t be a miracle solution and it will take time and effort, but before we know it we’ll look in the mirror and think ‘well, that wasn’t so hard.” Healthy Together 2020. Looks good to me!


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Less than a minute to read Nicholas Harvey

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