eHealth NSW's new service management platform used by over 140,000 staff

It hopes to eventually save healthcare staff around 500,000 hours of work.

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Image: Campbell Kwan

On a daily basis, the NSW public health system has around 17,000 people spend a night in its hospital system. It also has, on average, six and half thousand presentations to emergency departments, 1,000 surgeries, and helps give birth to 217 new lives every day.

To improve the efficiency behind the operations of NSW hospitals, eHealth NSW wanted to adopt a new service management platform as part of its broader 10-year digital transformation [PDF], said Farhoud Salimi, executive director of eHealth NSW Service Delivery, at the Now At Work Conference in Sydney on Thursday.

In September last year, eHealth NSW signed on [PDF] ServiceNow to provide a service management platform for its IT services, ticketing for multiple administrative functions, knowledge management, and certain HR services.

Along with the rollout of the service management platform, eHealth NSW also integrated five contact centres, two IT service desks, and three shared services to deal with over 3,500 interactions from NSW healthcare staff everyday.

"We were looking for a platform that is flexible and that offers opportunities to have a really strong service management platform to digitise other processes," Salimi said.

In choosing a platform, eHealth NSW wanted to achieve three key outcomes, which included having consistent foundations, an integrated platform, and personalisation for patients.

Digital innovation was important to eHealth NSW when deciding its new service management platform as Australia has an ageing population that is increasingly putting more pressure on health services, according to Salimi. 

At the same time, eHealth NSW wanted to enable patient data flow across its different systems and settings that, ideally, could also be unique and personalised for each individual.

According to eHealth NSW Corporate director Gary Rubie, eHealth NSW chose ServiceNow as it could "digitise and then really radically improve and transform the way [eHealth NSW] does business". 

"The ServiceNow program has really enabled us to look at capabilities program outcomes and how we can actually achieve some of those longer term outcomes. So it's a critical activity, getting those dependency maps together so you're actually going to achieve the best value that you get from the platform," he said.

The difficulty with rolling out such a system for eHealth NSW Service Delivery, however, was the size of the NSW Health, Salimi said. 

NSW Health has 17 local health districts and specialty networks; various support services for reporting cancer, safety, quality, and training and education, among others; and shared services such as ambulance pathology. In total, eHealth NSW has to provide support for 29 agencies that each have their own boards with their own management teams.  

The platform's rollout that took place in June has been worth it though, Rubie said, with the platform providing savings costs from being used by over 140,000 people.

"When we actually looked at about 60% of the NSW Health staff, if they had a reduction in 30 minutes a month in dealing with IT-related incidents and requests, that's about 500,000 hours a year. At NSW Health, we pay a little more than the others that are following the award, so that's that's a significant dollar amount if you look at that 500,000 hours a year [which is] 42,000 hours per month. That's just by a reduction in 30 minutes," he said. 

Rubie added that by moving its service management systems to digital, eHealth NSW has enabled physicians to spend less time on administrative tasks so they can place more attention on healthcare. 

The initial efforts of the 10-year transformation journey have been focused on building systems foundation such as the service management platform delivered by ServiceNow across eHealth NSW.

According to eHealth NSW, these efforts will enable the agency to enter the next phase of its 10-year plan, which will involve integrating its systems to support patients beyond hospital walls, and ultimately transform the patient experience to be more citizen centric. 

Other milestones that eHealth NSW has achieved as part of the project so far include providing all New South Wales public hospitals with access to electronic medical records (EMR) and completing the development of its long-running health roster program that uses data to manage the roster of 141,000 staff 24/7.

eHealth NSW is also changing the way it procures IT, Salimi said, so that services and platforms are delivered on an as-a-service basis, while ensuring interoperability is standard.

He said this is already being tested with early IoT trials currently underway with NSW Health Pathology to understand how information can be gathered from pathology devices, before artificial intelligence can be applied.

Updated 22 November 2019 10:20am (AEDT): The spelling of Farhoud Salimi's name has been amended. 

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