April 14, 2020

Keeping us safely connected: our ICT team

In the past month, our Information and Communication Technology (ICT) team, has been working on numerous improvements and initiatives to help the organisation adapt to modified ways of daily operations.

“These few weeks were really about setting up tools for video conferencing and remote working,” said David Ryan, Chief Information Officer.

“We had to look at the tools the people have; things like Follow Me desktop, secure remote access etc. We found there wasn’t enough licences for everyone, so luckily we managed to get a whole range of services and licences to get us going. Now, any staff that is permitted to work from home remotely will be able to do so,” he explained.

Another service that ICT has been working on is the SMS messaging.

“Optus has provided us with a gateway to an SMS service. This means we can send out broad SMS messages to our patients if needed, or send messages to staff. There is also a direct gateway to Pathology, so patients can get their COVID-19 results through SMS. We can also target specific groups of patients with relevant information, like people over 65. The team has been working pretty hard to get that up and running,” David explained.

Microsoft Teams is another priority tool for David and his team, which is currently under way.

“Around a 1000 staff so far have been enabled for Teams and the next step is the actual installation of Teams to staff computers. As everyone uses a different type of computer, some will need to access it via the app or via web browser. Currently, our Executive, Incident Management team etc. meetings are all done that way,” he explained.

Northern Health prefers Microsoft Teams to be used instead of Zoom.

“The issue with Zoom is that is has security concerns. There is something called  ‘Zoom bombing’ where people join meetings they are not supposed to, usually by mistake. With MS Teams, that can’t happen because you have to be invited or have the link. Meetings also expire, and the links don’t last forever. It’s a one-time meeting link, which is very useful and safe,” David explained.

“While we can’t stop other hospitals or organisations sending us a meeting link via Zoom, and will still need to participate at those meetings, our preferred platform at Northern Health will be MS Teams,” he added.

Telehealth is another initiative that ICT has been involved with, looking at different platforms and options other hospitals are using.

“Health Direct is a system used nation-wide and we are expecting to have our first telehealth appointment this week. Getting this up and running has been a big effort from different teams across the organisation,” he said.

All these online conferencing tools are having a major impact on the Internet usage across the organisation.

“To help manage the demand, we now have an upgraded Internet service. We now have 350 Mbits, which is a lot and now video conferencing should be a much easier,” David said.

With numerous projects underway at the same time, David said the whole team is willing to jump in and help and go above and beyond.

“They understand what is going on inside of the hospital. Our role is to keep the technology running, so that staff has all the tools required to keep them going,” he added.

Featured image (left to right): Linda Heard, Boppin John and David Ryan from the ICT team.