Victoria’s Bellarine Peninsula is one of the State’s fastest growing regions – consequently the demand for quality healthcare is also rising sharply.
Providing effective health care, efficiently is the number one priority for Bellarine Community Health, the not for profit organisation that is the largest provider of healthcare services in the area. Over the last six months it has undertaken an important transformation that streamlines the delivery of care and ensures compliance with modern healthcare expectations.
Bellarine Community Health (BCH) provides a broad range of primary care services – traversing general practice, pathology, podiatry, physiotherapy, occupational therapy and cardiac rehabilitation. BCH also has a specialised palliative care team together with community nurses providing palliative care to approximately 65 people in the community – ensuring patients are given quality care in the comfort of their own home.
BCH are currently working with thousands of patients each year in providing essential primary health care to the Bellarine Peninsula Communities. Microsoft’s cloud-based solution has enabled BCH to streamline primary health services delivery models in providing the right care, at the right place and at the right time.
When Shane Dawson was appointed CEO of BCH a couple of years ago, he found an organisation where staff across the organisation’s five sites were deeply committed to the wellbeing and health of patients – but who struggled with the systems that were available to support them. A lengthy period of underinvestment in key infrastructure was impacting the organisation significantly – over a year lost productivity was costing $650,000 as staff struggled with legacy systems.
At the same time those staff who were providing services under the National Disability Insurance Scheme, or palliative care nurses, who often need to work in clients’ homes did not have the sort of robust, secure mobile systems that they needed.
There were other challenges as well; because of the age and fragility of the legacy computing systems, it was hard for BCH to roll out systems to support new services.
And while BCH must comply with the standards for cybersecurity that Vic Health mandates – including adhering to the Australian Privacy Principles, the Health Records Act, and Mandatory Data Breach reporting – its systems weren’t ideally suited to the task.
Dawson knew that to transform into the robust service that the people of Bellarine deserved BCH had to transform, embrace cloud computing and ensure that all its systems could communicate and interoperate securely and reliably.
Only then would BCH be positioned to grow when and how it needs, to rely on a single intuitive platform that supports staff whether they were in one of the five BCH sites, or out at a client’s home – and all with no compromise of data security.
With Microsoft 365 and Azure as BCH’s new cloud foundations; “We’ve moved from an organisation from the 1980s into an organisation that’s well-placed to do what we need to do for the next 10-15 years,” says Dawson.
Working with UtilitiseIT managing director, Steven Gray, BCH carved out a blueprint for its transformation, and got cracking in August 2018.
Microsoft 365 has been deployed across the organisation along with Windows 10, immediately lifting the security posture across BCH. Within Microsoft 365 staff have access to all the productivity tools of Office 365, and communications and collaboration tools such as Microsoft Teams, Skype for Business and SharePoint. Voice calls are also made through Microsoft 365’s Enterprise Voice facility which is delivering flexibility and significant savings.
According to Dawson; “The access to data and information at your fingertips is significant. I think the mobility it’s given people, like our occupational therapists out in the field, is significant.”
“The reliability is another thing, no lost productivity. The other thing it’s done is cut my phone bill by $40 thousand dollars per annum.”
In a not for profit every dollar saved is a dollar available to be ploughed back into health care services for the community, which is BCH’s priority.
Given the range of services that BCH provides, having secure, reliable access to information systems wherever a professional is working is a massive benefit. It also brings a new level of flexibility for employees without which Dawson says it would be hard to hire and retain key skills and personnel.
“One of my key managers has young teenagers. The fact that she can work at home, has given her another level of mobility. That sort of stuff is gold. It really gives you an opportunity to really support your workforce,” says Dawson who is also a big winner from the increased flexibility.
“I just take my phone. I plug it in at home. And, suddenly, I’m in the office. I’ve got my same phone extension and everything. It just follows me. It’s fantastic.”
To manage access to information systems BCH uses Active Directory in Azure. Gray adds that some line of business applications, including client management and aged care management, have been moved into the cloud while Azure-based virtual machines are being used for different services.
“So, there’s two different GP services that the organisation has. We have set up two separate instances for that. The good thing about that is that it’s allowed us to scale horizontally really rapidly.”
“We’re also using Azure for backup services. And, as a result of the configuration, it also means that we’ve got high availability and disaster recovery built into the solution, as well. The Microsoft stack is something that you can trust.”
Trust lies at the core of everything BCH does – and for Dawson the cloud transformation is delivering in spades; providing savings, enhanced budget integrity, greater opportunity for innovation and cost-effective growth, as well as the flexibility he and his staff appreciate.