Healthcare group cures its IT systems
From Asia Computer Weekly: Healthcare group cures its IT systems
When National Healthcare Group's CIO Linus Tham joined the organisation two and a half years ago, he suffered a major culture shock. He was previously from the IT-savvy banking industry, and was surprised at how weak NHG's IT infrastructure was, and the low level of IT investment and use in healthcare.
Prior to Jan'03, healthcare institutions under Singapore's National Healthcare Group (NHG) had their own independent IT systems which were not able to "talk" to one another. Patients had to waste time and effort to register at the different institutions at various stages of their treatment, even though the institutions were under the same umbrella group.
There were also no economies of scale and little co-ordination between IT directors of the various institutions. Incorporated on 15 March 2000, the NHG consists of four hospitals, one National Centre, nine polyclinics, three speciality institutes and five business divisions. More than 11,000 people work for the group, which has annual revenue of at least S$1 billion (US$613 million).
"In the separate IT departments in the hospitals, almost every known hardware and software platform was used," said Tham.
There were no data standards between systems, sometimes even within the same institution. "The way each institution coded a male and female patient could be different," said Tham. Thus sharing and consolidating data between institutions was impossible.
Among other changes they made was this one...
Next, NHG moved from disparate, obsolete, unsupported e-mail platforms requiring internal gateways to route within NHG to a consolidated, highly available Lotus Domino/ Notes environment. One benefit was reduced administrative cost of gateways and directories.
"We are now supporting 2,000 more users with 10% less cost," said Tham.
At the same time, NHG standardised its application server to an IBM Websphere environment for critical applications, which reduced maintenance cost. Besides having to buy fewer licences, this allowed the group to share hardware resources.