The Primary Health Network that Cloud built

Two months and ten days. This is how long Bruce Baehnisch and his team at Loddon Mallee Murray Medicare Local had between the moment they realised they were successful in winning the tender for the Murray PHN (a Primary Health Network) in Victoria, to when the organisation needed to be fully operational.

Commencing on the 1 July, 2015, after Medicare Local was defunded by the Commonwealth Government, the provision of healthcare services from 31 new networks across Australia, including Murray PHN, began.

Today, Murray PHN extends from the South Australian border to east of Albury Wodonga- almost half of Victoria geographically, and a community of approximately 600,000 people.

Consolidating a large number of small and medium providers, primary health covers general practice, but also pharmacy, allied health and other community health services like alcohol and drug counselling, and aged care.

In Bruce’s own words, the role of the PHN is “…to understand what’s happening in local areas, identify the gaps and ensure people can access the right care, at the right place, at the right time.”

“We’re working to challenge the way health services are delivered to the public, how they’re funded, and using new incentives to change and remove blockages in the health system.”

As Executive Director of Corporate Services, it was Bruce’s responsibility to quickly consolidate Medicare Local’s regional offices.

From a technology standpoint, it became instantly clear that Murray PHN could never extend its wide area network under the current infrastructure.

Kick-starting communications

Bruce explains, “We had a traditional, on premise architecture at Medicare Local, so once it was announced that we would be the PHN and we grasped the size of it, we knew that in order to integrate the various offices, a move to cloud technology was necessary to handle this sort of scale.”

The first step was adopting Office 365, and rolling out Skype for Businesses for better communications and file sharing across locations. Ease of access to applications, for all staff, regardless of location, was high on Bruce’s agenda.

“We set up regional offices in Albury, Bendigo, Mildura, and Shepparton. Instant communication was required with the help of Office 365.”

“Our workforce is regional and mobile, but as long as our staff have access to the internet, communication is seamless. To date, Office 365 has been a terrific experience, and our people appreciate the flexibility that they have in being able to work at home. It’s the same functionality and the same way of working in the office and on the road, whereas with legacy systems, it was different wherever you found yourself.”

Murray PHN now has around 90 staff, all using Office 365. Skype for Business has been a particular stand-out.

“It’s now much easier to share documents in real-time, and we’re also using functionalities like recording meetings so we have them on file. Skype for Business has had a huge impact on our internal communications”, Bruce explains.

A single source of truth

From streamlined communications, to database management, Bruce and his team also sought solace in Microsoft Services, with the guidance of CRM Partners.

“When we started Murray PHN, we inherited an area run by five Medicare Locals. While we were able to negotiate access to their databases, they were each very different, with multiple fields and functionalities. We were dealing with masses of data.”

Bruce’s first task was to aggregate the information into one place, to create a single, unified picture.

“Essentially, we needed to choose one platform, clean up our data and put it in one place. When CRM Partners introduced us to Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online, we were instantly attracted to the integration opportunities and how it could connect with our IT services too.”

A three-dimensional view of finances

The integration project also managed to highlight the challenges of Medicare Local’s existing MYOB finance system.

“We were using MYOB and it offered a very two-dimensional view of our finances. It was sufficient so long as we wanted a company-wide understanding of how we were tracking, but to really break that data down and view it by program or region, we had to perform this manually on excel spreadsheets”, Bruce explains.

What Murray PHN needed was visibility of data from different angles.

“We wanted to see our financial data from a regional, program and a chart of accounts perspective. Microsoft Dynamics NAV offered these new dimensions.”

The difference that partnership makes

Significant in Murray PHN’s journey so far has been CRM Partners. Bruce first approached CRM Partners when implementing Dynamics NAV, since then, they’ve facilitated the move to CRM Online, Office 365. They’ve also rolled out Windows Intune to secure Murray PHN’s apps and devices, and are hosting Microsoft Dynamics NAV on Azure which allows for single sign-on across the organisation.

Director at CRM Partners Rajesh Mahto explains, “We worked closely with Bruce and his team to ensure Murray PHN had a seamless transition to cloud services. In only a few months, it’s remarkable to see how far they’ve come and how they’re improving the healthcare of so many Victorians.”

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