​Clean bill of health as Plunket steps into the cloud with Microsoft tech

Plunket has launched its electronic Plunket Health Record (ePHR) application, a cloud-based healthcare service built on Microsoft cloud technologies.

Plunket has launched its electronic Plunket Health Record (ePHR) application, a cloud-based healthcare service built on Microsoft cloud technologies.

The new ePHR app, which will take the children’s support services provider from a paper-based system to a modern, mobile and customer-centric process, has been built utilising a wide array of Microsoft cloud technologies, including Dynamics CRM Online, Azure Active Directory, Exchange Online, Skype for Business, and Microsoft System Centre.

In addition to the development of the ePHR application as part of the larger technology programme, Plunket will deploy around 800 Windows tablets to clinical nurses across New Zealand.

“Our paper based systems had become cumbersome, and we recognised there were a number of opportunities to improve our overall service such as data quality, reporting, compliance and auditing,” says Andrea McLeod, Chief Operating Officer, Plunket.

“You can imagine how difficult managing and auditing over 60,000 clinical records per annum is - being electronic means we will have real-time data to enable us to provide a more efficient and effective service to our customers - the children and families of New Zealander.

McLeod says the service is about protecting and improving the health of New Zealand children.

“We realised that our current system wouldn’t allow a quick response to negative population health trends, such as an outbreak of an infectious disease,” McLeod adds.

“With real time data, Plunket will be well positioned to monitor and respond to these events ensuring health messages can be targeted and families quickly contacted with information and advice.”

Microsoft and partner companies were also involved in the process, with Plunket engaging Koorb Consulting to tailor Dynamics CRM to support the ePHR system, while Marker Metro’s team of local specialist Windows app developers were contracted to design and build the app.

Microsoft’s Public Sector Architect, Terry Chapman, who worked closely with Plunket and the partners on the project, says that the Microsoft cloud platform was chosen for the ePHR because of its ability to meet Plunket’s business needs without extensive and costly customisations.

“Leveraging the cloud for the core of ePHR has enabled Plunket to rapidly move from idea to prototype to a fully functional line of business system,” Chapman adds.

“Plunket and Microsoft have a great partnership. More than just a new app for the frontline, ePHR represents a journey for Plunket from being a paper-based organisation to being a digital organisation.

“Not only will the move help keep Plunket relevant for the next generation of kiwi families, Microsoft sees Plunket taking advantage of the technology to spend more time with the communities that it serves.”

Chapman says Plunket is among the first public healthcare services providers in New Zealand to move its business to the cloud.

But during the move, privacy and security were key considerations for Plunket moving its core business data to the cloud, and for CEO Jenny Prince especially, the technology case was compelling.

“Dollars did drive our decision; that is definitely part of the story,” Prince adds. “But privacy and security have always been a priority for us.

“The question was why should we store data when there is a credible, reliable option available which holds our customer data more securely than alternatives?”

Supporting the CEO and Plunket’s Board were senior managers, among them Chief Information Security Officer Chris Blunt, who navigated Plunket through the various security and privacy issues of establishing the ePHR.

“The key was to get people to understand what we were doing and why we wanted to use offshore cloud services - communicating that early and being transparent throughout was critical,” Blunt adds.

Going forward, Microsoft’s Public Sector Director, Jeff Healey says that the electronic Plunket Health Record should be seen as a blueprint example of for the New Zealand IT and public sectors.

“There’s no doubt that the challenges of the mobile-first, cloud-first world are just as significant for New Zealand NGOs as they are for all businesses, be they small, medium or large enterprises,” Healey adds.

“What Plunket has demonstrated through their leadership in this transformative project is that the capability for creating world-class, innovative cloud solutions exists right here and right now in New Zealand when we work together to reimagine what is possible.

“We are proud to have been a part of that journey, and look forward to continuing to work with Plunket to help their business continue to succeed.”

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