ACHSM Breakfast Forum “Health IT Reform in Queensland Health – New Beginnings”

Written by: Bridget Young

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I entered the function room at Royal on the Park with trepidation, as I always do when arriving at networking events or forums – will I fall flat on my face and cause the whole room to turn and stare; will this be a valuable investment my managers and directors have made for my benefit; will I get some real market intelligence to help me with better serving my clients?

In direct order the answers to the above were No (thank God!); Yes (more thanks to the heavens!); and YES (FINALLY!). A public introduction to Queensland Health’s Chief Health Information Officer quickly confirmed why Mal Thatcher has been selected as the person to captain the sometimes ‘leaky boat’ that the public has often perceived as the IT component of our public health offering in Queensland.

With an ironic and self-deprecating sense of humour, it became immediately apparent that in keeping with Government’s Contestability and Fit for Purpose drivers, Mr Thatcher wanted us to know what he had achieved so far and was transparent about where he hoped to steer this ship moving forward.

Alignment with Health’s “Blueprint for Better Health “ and the Hospital and Health Boards Act 2011 will be forefront in the ‘devolution’ from centralised Corporate services, enabling adoption of an Agile approach to Policy, Governance and Architecture to facilitate innovation. With an intended reduction of red-tape and reallocation of responsibility and accountability to the regional Hospital and Health Services, we will ideally see Fit for Purpose solutions determined by those best informed to evaluate what will work for their unique requirements, whilst still maintaining integrity and future integration options.

A very strong focus on eHealth, innovation and waste reduction should further stimulate ICT job opportunities and find us on the cutting edge of Healthcare Technology. Some topics of note included Digital services such as open data, security/privacy and archiving; Information as a strategic asset; As A Service offerings; core system replacement and a paradigm shift from “IT Projects” to “Business Transformation Projects” with IT elements.

It’s all one big Balancing Act

By Justine Eden

JustineI am about to get on a plane and fly to London. 12 months ago it seemed like the best idea. Now as the departure day looms – I am feeling sick with guilt.

An opportunity to go on a trip minus family, sans kids! I always travel with my family in tow, it’s a different holiday with kids, but watching them experience the world is magic. But there are times where walking past a great bar that’s packed and happening, but doesn’t welcome kids, can be hard.

So – now I am off with my business partner Kim Ritchie. It’s a business trip, really it is. I know our strategic planning trips in the past, have been called strategic tanning by some, but this is seriously business.

We have a long list of specialist clinical skills that can’t be sourced locally and will be attending a leading health careers fair. We have partnered up with Business & Skilled Migration Queensland who provide fast tracked permanent residency for those eligible.

We will represent Queensland and show case the best our State has to offer. We have loaded ourselves up with Queensland themed give-aways – thong bottle openers, pens with pineapples on top of them, BBQ shapes and Tim Tams…. It’s all one big scary business opportunity and it’s really exciting to be able to undertake something on this scale.

The guilt I feel is all about leaving my babies and my baby (ERR – but it is 18 and is surely, by now, an adult??). But what do you do – I am a big believer in taking calculated risks and pushing out of your comfort zone in order to grow. We have days booked with meetings and (of course) evenings booked with great restaurants and shows….

I am determined to maximize this great opportunity we have worked hard to create for ourselves. We are a small business – but we punch above our weight. Will keep you posted on how we go!!!

A Moment In Time Can Change All That You Hold True

Written by Justine Eden

JustineAn innocent moment at home, could have lead to me burning my house down. It was confronting and made me question a lot of what I had placed value on…

My life is busy – but as it is for most of us. I always seem to be chasing that elusive extra 10 minutes in the day, the extra time that would make a difference between being on time or being late – again.

I’m at my best when I’m flat out – yes I can be a stress head perfectionist, but put under pressure – I perform at my best. I’ve always rated my ability to multitask and smirked at those of the opposite sex who appear incapable of multitasking.

I remember talking with a good friend of mine – an executive coach who drives performance through self improvement – who stated point blank that multitasking was ineffective.

He went on to say that you were better off focusing on one thing at a time and doing it right before attempting to move onto what you have to do next. I smiled and nodded at the time and thought – “no wonder you say that – you are a man and therefore unable to multitask anyway”…

But the other night as I listened to my daughter practice her mandarin for an upcoming language contest, and started preparing dinner – at the same time a call came through from a client – which of course I accepted…. We spoke for around 10 minutes and when I turned around the house was full of smoke from the pan heating on the element filled with olive oil, which I had totally forgotten about.

It struck me at that point how I hadn’t really been fully focused on any one thing and probably had my attention spread across 4-5 different things at the same time.   How effective was I really? How effective is multitasking ? I had the mantra of do it once and do it right drilled into me from birth, but the pace of life had made multitasking seem like the only way of possibly getting everything done.

I don’t think this “old dog” will totally learn new tricks. The adrenalin rush of getting it all done keeps me on the edge, but I am focusing on being in the moment and present. Meditation is top of my list of things to start and keep doing. Making notes keeps me on track and means I stress less about forgetting something. Paying full attention to the person in front of me – rather than letting my mind wander across all of the things I need to do is something I am practicing hard at.

Old habits are hard to change – but the wake up call was an opportunity for me to reassess……..

The Dark Side of the “Struggle to Juggle”

By: Kate Broadley

1D6A0555Last week I wrote about the some of the benefits for employers and employees of using flexible work practices. But I thought to be fair, I should talk about the challenges, or the dark side as I call it.

In reality, flexibility does not work in all workplaces. Yes I work from home, but not everyone can do this. One must be willing to work independently and alone. Of course there are fewer distractions and I get to avoid those unnecessary interruptions, but there is no office vibe or excitement, and no one to exchange ideas with. While this works for me, there are times in a business environment when your expertise is required and missed in the workplace, if you are not there! The type of work I do requires at times a quiet place where I can analyse information and write reports, so the home office is the perfect place. On the other hand, a lot of work requires you to be in the very hub of activity in the workplace. I don’t get distracted at home, but others find it impossible to focus.

I work in a small business with two fantastic directors, who are comfortable communicating with me through various mediums other than face to face, and who support and trust me to deliver what I need for the business. It helps that my goals and outcomes are clearly measurable. This has not come about overnight and I think it is unfair for employees to expect this. It has been created over time and built through trust, delivery of quantifiable and measurable outcomes, and some ups and downs along the way. In my opinion, without mutual trust, support and measurable outcomes, this type of flexibility cannot work.

And finally, I am never off the grid, given all the wonderful technological gadgets we now have access to, which create the opportunity for greater flexibility to fit work in and around all of life’s other activities. But whether technology has enabled greater freedom from the workplace is debatable. It is easy for working “anywhere, anytime” to turn into working “everywhere, all the time”. I check my emails all the time, I hate to admit this, but often before breakfast and even when on holidays. I am not expected to do this, but it helps me manage my workload. I like to multi-task, but does this simply exacerbate the “struggle to juggle” and put us at risk of burnout, which is one of the very things, flexible work practices seek to avoid?

Flexible Work Practices = Maximum Productivity

By Kate Broadley

1D6A0555I find it ironic that today I am writing about flexible work practices as I sit in the parking lot waiting to collect my teenage boys from sporting commitments, with my computer on my lap and headphones to my ear!! Flexibility in the workplace is the secret to my success. It’s hard for me to ever imagine working again in a conventional office environment and quite frankly I would not have the same productivity without this flexibility!! So listen up you doubters!!!!

Really I have the best of both worlds. Some days are spent in the office, as I somewhat glamorously meet with clients and conduct meetings. While I do love my days in the office, as I get to dress up in high heels and snazzy corporate attire, the downside of my office days, is as a mum, the commute to work wastes so much time (although I have now mastered techniques to use this time wisely). Modern technology, particularly laptops and mobile phones has made it far easier to work anywhere and at any time of the day. That itself, is a whole other issue for another day!!

My life is a constant mesh of work and personal. This is my life and it’s a life that others desire, which is why I am surprised that flexible work practices still experience such resistance and has not been adopted more fully. Research shows it is one of the top five reasons people leave a company. I simply could not work without this flexibility and I am sure there are many others who do not work, as they are unable to find this flexibility in the workforce. Imagine the talent we could be missing out on!!

Flexibility results in improved employee attraction and retention, cost-savings and improved productivity. Work, like our personal life isn’t constant and the ability to have flexibility helps people stay happy and healthy.

A happy and healthy workforce equals productivity in my experience. What do you think?

An Agile Approach to Recruitment …

By Bridget Young1D6A0741

As recruiters, our clients provide us with a lot of ‘buzz’ words when describing roles that they would like us to recruit for. I was speaking to a BI Architect recently, who made an interesting point and valid connection to one of the current buzz words, which led my thoughts to actions I have been taking throughout my career.

Disregarding the usage of this word relating to software development and project management methodology, I have observed in my first quarter with Eden Ritchie that the term is being lent to the ideology and in some cases, the strategic directives organisations have started to progress to reduce risk aversion and stimulate innovation in IT business units and project teams.

To paraphrase my candidate, who had attended some interviews directly with employers and through other agencies, only to find that he was too experienced or too expensive:

“If only employers would apply an Agile approach to developing job briefs and position descriptions; I think that defining the role and responsibilities correctly are essential to finding the right candidate. Its’ what we do when we define a solution from business requirements using this methodology. We don’t need SAP for a small business even thought it is a best of breed solution – so why look for an Architect when you really just need someone to analyse data?”

A light bulb went off and I was excited – I had already been toying with some basic understanding of aspects of Agile in settling in to my role at Eden Ritchie. Tom and I have daily stand ups (though normally whilst we’re sitting down having coffee!); we work in “sprints” to manage our workload and fulfil KPI’s; and we maintain a visual representation of our issues, opportunities, deadlines and challenges on a white board so that at a glance, we know where we’re up to, what needs the most attention, and to pool ideas for how we can do things smarter.

Now, here was a high level candidate articulating my exact thoughts about defining client requirements for recruitment and my initial thoughts were, “Hey, I’m really on to something here, maybe I could revolutionise the approach to ICT recruitment if I looked into it further!” (Naturally providing full reference and credit to my wonderful candidate!). 

Sadly, or happily in this instance, it seems there is nothing new in the buzz word or it’s application to recruitment, as evidenced in the links provided below.

Reference 1

Reference 2

Reference 3

Queensland’s Economic Growth through Innovation and Technology

1D6A0741An encouraging sign for IT professionals in Queensland is indicated by the recent release of GoDigitalQld – the Queensland Government’s Digital Economy Strategy and Action Plan. This roadmap, developed in conjunction with an independent consultancy, outlines ways forward to creating economic growth for Queensland communities, businesses and individuals alike. Queensland Government aims to work closely with other levels of Government, Business and Industry peak bodies to leverage opportunities, deliver better digital services and share information that will benefit all, including candidates in the job market seeking their next project, and clients seeking candidates with developing experience in emerging IT specialisations.

Demonstrated by the delivery of more than 50 new services online and with aims to reach 100 by the end of this year, we are already enjoying the “One-Stop Shop” initiative as consumers, which has resulted in reduction of red tape and time-saving for many, while the Government Wireless Network will deliver vital updates to improve multiple agency coordination by connecting thousands of police, ambulance, fire and emergency officers to the one secure digital network for the first time. In Health, we have started seeing better access to medical services via video link and pilot hospital constructions dedicated to innovation of services with Digital support enhancements. Tourism has received specific benefit from these initiatives reaching some of our far and wide destinations with ways to reach more visitors and promote our state. And for businesses, the Government will open up it’s data for public use with more than 800 datasets available on the Open Data Portal, which will help people use government data to create business opportunities and mobile applications.

With these offerings and innovations, we hope that we will see opportunities and growth in Queensland job markets continue as these strategies are embraced and delivered in our communities and businesses.