New Funding for “Digital Hospital Futures”: State Budget

The Rockliff Government has committed $150m over four years as part of a decade-long overhaul of the state’s digital health ICT infrastructure. There is no doubt that digital systems across our health system are in dire need of an upgrade.  

The $150m announced is just the first four years of a 10-year digital health ‘transformation’ program and includes a new integrated electronic patient care record at Ambulance Tasmania, as well as a statewide record viewer that will be shared by public and private providers. The strategy also extends to improving access to Telehealth. The stated goals of improving patient, clinician and support staff experiences and making our community healthcare and hospital sectors more interconnected are good ones. 

However you square it, being able to deliver on the productivity benefits of upgrading our ageing systems nevertheless relies on staffing – where the forecast is less optimistic. There has been no action to relieve workload at Launceston General Hospital or the Royal Hobart Hospital, chronic ambulance ramping or the long waitlist for elective surgeries.

Little more than half of Category 1 elective surgery patients were seen on time last year. Just 36.7% of Category 2 surgeries. The average wait time for those who had surgeries postponed were 105.6 days (Category 1), 231 (Category 2) and 273 (Category 3). Only 58.9% of Emergency Department arrivals were seen within the recommended triage time. Digital upgrades aimed at reducing hospital presentations will make little difference.

For CPSU members in hospitals and your colleagues, little has been promised that will take the pressure off bedblock, ramping and administrative work overloads. It’s clear it falls to workers to take matters into their own hands and look for industrial solutions to conditions and policies that put worker and community safety at risk.

Digital Overhaul to Include Two-Factor Authentication Rollout 

As part of the overhaul, the Department is also proposing to deploy Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) technology to increase the security and resilience of its digital systems and data from the risk of cyberattacks. MFA is a now-common security measure that requires additional verification of identity to grant access to a user account. MFA mitigates the risk of compromised user credentials (e.g.,  stolen passwords) by requiring a second proof of identity (such as a one-time passcode).  

Staff will be required to register either a mobile authentication app or number to receive one-time access codes via SMS. This will confirm your identity before granting access to secure systems. The proposal ensures no staff member will be required to use their personal mobile phone unless you are comfortable doing so.  

Initial rollout will target external digital clients like Office365. Examples in which staff will be prompted for authentication include: 

  • Once every 30 days when a login originates from a device not managed by the Department,  
  • When a login originates from outside of Australia, or  
  • When threat intelligence indicates a medium or high risk associated with user sign-in or usage activity.  

Staff who are restricted from carrying a mobile phone at work will not be affected by the change. Instructional guides and videos, and IT support staff have been factored into the proposed change. An FAQ has already been developed and communicated to staff – however if you have any further questions or concerns contact CPSUDirect at (03) 6234 1708 or at CPSUDirect@tas.cpsu.com.au

The proposed timeline is for initial rollout to beta-testing in late May, with weekly batches across the agency beginning June, with an anticipated rollout completion in September. 

Further questions can also be directed to Martin Shadbolt (Senior Manager Cybersecurity Services, Health ICT) at ocio.healthict@health.tas.gov.au or your CPSU Organiser Nellie Metcalfe at nmetcalfe@tas.cpsu.com.au

Nellie Metcalfe

CPSU Organiser


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