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Ex-Qld Health CIO heads south

High-flying Australian IT executive Paul Summergreene has surfaced in Canberra, commencing work consulting to the health sector after losing his spot as Queensland Health chief information officer in July.

High-flying Australian IT executive Paul Summergreene has surfaced in Canberra, commencing work consulting to the health sector after losing his spot as Queensland Health chief information officer in July.

Former Qld Health CIO
Paul Summergreene

(Credit: Association
and Communications Events)

Since the executive's departure in July, which saw him replaced by a more clinical CIO, Dr Richard Asbury, Summergreene has kept out of the limelight, but the ex-CIO has recently reappeared in Canberra in the capacity of a private consultant to the health sector there.

Summergreene said that he harboured no negative feelings towards either the Queensland or the Australian governments despite the suddenness of his forced departure, following the appointment of Michael Reid to Queensland Health's top job, director general. However, this week he told ZDNet.com.au it was "an enlightening process with having a career end so abruptly".

"It did hit fairly hard after having been a workaholic for so many years. You certainly need to re-prioritise your life. It's so easy to get tied up in work," he said.

Despite his short tenure in the lead IT role at Queensland Health, Summergreene still has deep insight into the agency's future challenges, particularly around e-health systems. He said e-health would remain a huge challenge for Queensland on several fronts, describing its health system, like other states', a "big complex beast". He said the department has "good people" and that he "hopes they do well", however, he expressed concern about the state of technology in health.

"IT in health is relatively immature — more so than other parts of organisations so there is a huge challenge," he said.

The nation's flagship e-health group, the National E-Health Transition Authority, (NEHTA) was the other challenge, according to Summergreene.

"NEHTA is going through changes with its new CEO. It does have a massive role to play, but hasn't delivered a hell of a lot to date. They are working closely with Medicare for unique health identifiers, but shared e-health records are a long way off if it ever truly comes into play," he said.