Victoria to upgrade e-health system

Victoria to upgrade e-health system

Australia’s rail gauge problem applied to health information

More than two years after Victoria's Human Services Directory (HSD) went live, the Department of Human Services has outlined its plans to extend the application's functionality with a new three-year contract beginning in 2008.

The original concept of a state-wide health services directory resource dates back to 2001, when it was decided it would be the most effective means of providing services information to agencies and practitioners.

The health services directory was the first stage in the development of a statewide services information resource to meet the needs of consumers, practitioners and agencies, and the Department of Human Services itself.

After a 2002 tender for a comprehensive source of data on health and care services in Victoria, DCA Pty Ltd was contracted to develop the application, which would allow agencies direct access to records about services, enabling them to manage information about services delivered.

The HSD also provides general public access to services information over the Web.

With the existing contract due to expire in February next year, the department is seeking "suitably qualified" parties to provide support, maintenance and enhancements to the HSD between 2008 and 2011.

The successful vendor will enhance the functionality of the HSD to assist hospitals and health services to use the General Practitioner Registry (GPR) to communicate with GPs regarding the admission and discharge of their patients.

The next-generation application will also support e-Referral and the data needs of other DHS projects, including the Nurse On-Call project, Better Health Channel service directory, the Disability Online directory, HealthSmart, and the Front End Reception Information System (FERIS).

An "e-Referral" is the process where referrals between services take place electronically. This involves the communication, with the intention of initiating care transfer, from the provider making the referral to the receiver and is characterized by transmission of the referral as an electronic message, which is auto-populated with information from the referrer's records, according to the department.

The new tender stipulates the project should be developed in alignment with the strategic directions identified by other relevant DHS projects and will leverage on the applicable technologies and standards adopted by the federal government and other health entities.

Such standards include the Healthcare Provider Identification (HPI) by the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) and Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) by the Health eSignature Authority (HESA).

The tender also recommends integrating with "cross border" services that are located on either side of the border between Victoria and New South Wales or South Australia.

The successful tenderer will be announced in October and the contract will start by "late 2007" and continue until February 2011.

"This early commencement is to enable the facilitation of a system hand-over, if required, and to enable planning for the new services and development," according to the department.

The HDS application was developed with Microsoft's Visual Studio .Net 2003 on an SQLServer 2000 database. The Web services components were written in Delphi 2006 and Delphi 7.

Performance requirements for the upgraded system include a processing capacity of 3000 database searches per hour, and an initial database capacity 100,000 records and be expandable to 150,000 to 200,000 records "over time".

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