Oakton to put record system back on track: Defence

DEFENCE has kick-started its overdue e-health record system for armed forces personnel, awarding a $6.1 million three-year project management contract to consultant and IT services provider Oakton.

The successor to HealthKeys, sidelined in 2009 after years of work with only 40 per cent of medical files converted from paper, was to be a commercial off-the-shelf system.

Top brass agreed to fast-track the purchase, and Defence's rapid prototype development and evaluation (RPDE) group put together a connected suite of commercial products in short order.

New Zealand software developer Orion Health completed a $15,000 proof of concept demonstration within a fortnight.

Vice-chief of the Defence Force, Lieutenant-General David Hurley, told Senate estimates then that industry, the RPDE and the Defence Science Technology Organisation had "generated a fully COTS-linked e-health system that meets all the standards of the National E-Health Transition Authority" within four months.

"We did not have to cut a line of code, so we are really confident that this will be able to be brought in," he said.

Defence had been forced to concede defeat over their eight-year struggle to roll out HealthKeys.

But the new joint e-health data and information (JeDHI) system has been on hold since a tender for a contractor to design, build and implement the e-health system was issued last February.

Defence is keeping details under wraps, refusing to reveal which technology partners will participate in the project. "The JeDHI system will be launched in early 2011, and media will be invited to attend and report at that time," Defence public affairs officer Jeffrey Von Drehnen said.

National ICT Australia praised the Defence approach in its survey of broadband opportunities for telemedicine last year, saying the proof of concept system was based in Canberra, with connections to external systems in Darwin and Brisbane.

"It operated in nodes, mimicking the central-unit approach," NICTA said.

"Information was transmitted over a 256-bit encrypted link. The system only allowed specified roles to interact with specified parts of the data.

"All standards were open, and enforced. All interfaces were open, and documented.

"Vendors were informed they could use any back-end system to support the requirements, but interface and standards compliance was strict."

An announcement of the successful tenderer for project implementation was expected in September.

Since December 2009, Oakton AA Services has earned about $2.5m in Defence contracts related to the JeDHI project.

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