The Canterbury District Health Board is spearheading a search for a single national infection surveillance system to standardise the technologies in use across NZ's 20 district health boards (DHBs).
Perhaps surprisingly, the initiative was not prompted by the current COVID-19 pandemic, but has been in development for some time before that outbreak.
Multiple DHBs currently use a shared infection surveillance system, which receives data from individual DHB and laboratory source systems, a request for information (RFI) document released today says.
This is used by DHB infection prevention and control teams, in both hospital and community settings, to monitor, survey, report and case manage infections and infectious organisms within their facilities and communities.
A separate database is currently maintained for Taranaki DHB, which will require migration to the national system in the future, the RFI says.
With resources being provided by the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC), it is planned for further New Zealand DHBs to begin using the system to assist in infection surveillance.
ACC is supporting the initiative to create a single shared clinical system capable of supporting and managing the unique requirements of infection prevention and control services.
By encouraging use of an infection prevention and control system ACC intends that District Health Boards will be able to better monitor and manage infections as well as facilitate their prevention, thus improving treatment safety.
The current system, unnamed in the RFI but which appears to be ICNet, has been in service for Canterbury DHB since 2012 and the other DHBs for shorter periods.
"It provides a mature set of clinical functions including clinical documentation, outcomes collection, case/task management and local and national reporting functions," the RFI says.
"The system is fully supported by the vendor and has a regular upgrade path."
Canterbury DHB is reviewing the options that would be available within the health market to provide DHBs with a system.
The implemention of such a system, will require changes to existing practices including better data governance for system changes such as laboratory test code changes, the RFI says.
One key benefit is anticipated to be a reduction in the need for infection prevention and control staff to collect data manually, thereby reducing the risk of missing an infection.
The system will need to be cloud based and have the ability to integrate with multiple systems by meeting specified standards so that it can send and receive data from these systems within the organisation in real time.
The system must also be able to safely store sensitive patient information and must meet requirements of both the New Zealand Information Security Manual and the Health Information Security Framework (HISO).
Separately, Canterbury DHB is partnering with HPE to implement cloud technologies to ensure the DHB can continue to operate in times of disaster and crisis and to reduce costs.