Melbourne Health seeks network provider as it readies electronic record system

Victorian healthcare provider Melbourne Health has published a request for tender to support its proposed electronic medical record system.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

The Victorian government has gone to tender, seeking a provider to upgrade Melbourne Health's network and site infrastructure.

The successful vendor will be charged with enabling appropriate levels of clinical and administrative user access to a proposed electronic medical record (EMR) system to be introduced at Melbourne Health, the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, and the Royal Women's Hospital, the request for tender (RFT) explains.

In preparing the EMR proposal, Melbourne Health conducted an assessment of the readiness of its IT infrastructure to adequately support the initiative.

The assessment identified IT-related improvements necessary to implement an EMR, which included the replacement of old and out-of-support network and firewall equipment and the need to increase the speed and redundancy in the network infrastructure at the Parkville and Royal Park sites.

Also flagged as requiring improvement were the extension of the wireless network capability at three sites and improvements in the uninterruptible power supply and power capabilities within the Melbourne Health primary datacentre where mission-critical clinical systems are located, the RFT said.

As Melbourne Health labelled the scope of works as considerable, the RFT is split into three phases.

Phase one, starting in December 2017 and to be delivered in December 2018, is the network remediation of approximately 55 percent of the local area network at Royal Melbourne Hospital City Campus. It will also include the upgrade and provisioning of interconnect to allow redundant connectivity between the Parkville Precinct sites.

The second phase will see the network remediation of the remaining 45 percent of the local area network at the Royal Melbourne Hospital City Campus, as well as the remediation of the networks at Royal Park Campus and a handful of Melbourne Health remote sites. This is expected to be completed by December 2019.

By June 2020, Melbourne Health requests the extension and improvement of the wireless network capabilities to support EMR access across most Melbourne Health sites, plus the implementation of a redundant uninterruptible power supply at the Royal Women's Hospital datacentre, as part of the final phase.

In South Australia, a new electronic records system being rolled out across public hospitals is possibly not fit for purpose, according to the Australian Medical Association (AMA), which last month said almost 40 percent of the 250 staff members it spoke with held a "poor" opinion of the AU$422 million enterprise patient administration system (EPAS).

30 percent believed patients are not clinically safer, and 20 percent found it responsible for adverse patient outcomes.

A report from Western Australia's Auditor General Colin Murphy last month then found that IT services -- including EMR cost blowouts -- accounted for most of the AU$11.5 million variation at the state's new Fiona Stanley Hospital.

Also last month, the Council of Australian Governments Health Council (COAG) gave the go-ahead for the federal government's electronic health records system, My Health Record, to begin automatically signing up Australians.

By 2018, all Australians will have a My Health Record, and by 2022, all healthcare providers will be able to contribute to and use health information stored in My Health Record on behalf of their patients. They will also be able to communicate with other healthcare providers on the clinical status of joint patients via the digital platform.

Australians will be able to opt out if they choose.

Despite approval from COAG, there is no standard way to share data between providers, and by the end of next year only draft standards and a roadmap for implementation are pencilled in.

"Base-level requirements for using digital technology when providing care in Australia will be agreed, with improvements in data quality and interoperability delivered through adoption of clinical terminologies, unique identifiers, and data standards," the strategy explains.

"By 2022, the first regions in Australia will showcase comprehensive interoperability across health service provision."

Originally switched on in 2012, the My Health Record system was given a further AU$485 million in funding in the 2015-16 Budget, as well as being renamed from the "personally controlled e-health record system" (PCEHR).

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