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Plunket’s technology leap is focused on customers

Plunket’s recently launched Electronic Plunket Health Record (ePHR) is a development that has taken one of the country’s most recognised and respected non-government organisations from pen, paper and filing cabinet to tablet and an offshore cloud provider.

For CEO Jenny Prince the drive to leapfrog technologies was simple, “we have credible expert knowledge but we have to use it in a credible way using technology – that is what the customers expect.”

Plunket had to be relevant to its customers.  In doing so it had to maximise opportunities to use data analytics while positioning itself for the future, all in the most cost effective way possible.  And at the heart of a technology solution had to be privacy and security of data for customers – issues central to Plunket’s business for more than 100 years – but critical as data storage options were considered.

The ePHR is an application (app) that provides Plunket’s nurses in the field with a real-time customer relationship management (CRM) system.  It delivers improved case management and case load management, allows for timely referrals and improved access to information.  It will ensure Plunket support for children in highly mobile family situations is not delayed.

The data is stored in Microsoft’s public cloud service.  Plunket reached its decision to use an offshore provider through completing an Information Security Risk Assessment (RA) and Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) in accordance with its own Risk Management Policy.  It determined that only an offshore provider could meet the controls recommended by the RA and the PIA namely independent certifications, regular audits to international standards, sufficient scalability, availability and accessibility.  All lined up to ensure confidentiality and integrity of data.  For Jenny Prince the evidence was compelling.

“Dollars did drive us, it is part of the story.  But privacy and security have always been a priority for us.   Why should we store data when there is a credible, reliable option available which holds our customer data more securely than alternatives?”

On this basis Plunket sought an exemption from the National IT Health Board to store health customer data in Microsoft’s Australian datacentres.  This was approved.

Plunket’s consent processes with its customers include reference to Well Child Tamariki Ora data being stored offshore.  Chief Operating Officer Andrea McLeod says “we are very comfortable with storage offshore and so are our customers.  We have had those discussions and we know the storage we have is as secure as it can be.”

There will be, over time, significant savings.  A single Plunket nurse will spend an hour a day retrieving and then refiling paper files while on average, each of her customer visits will take 45 minutes.  Using a tablet and the ePHR app nurses will be able to make at least one more visit per day in what Plunket senior managers describe as “more time to care.”

For Andrea McLeod the real time data analytics offered by Microsoft cloud will allow Plunket to be a more flexible organisation able to respond to community needs and changing demographics.

“This is about being able to access more information, responding faster and more proactively moving services to where they need to be.  We are a service organisation that must be relevant and responsive and we need a smart back office to do it.”

Plunket believes its pioneering technology solution repositions it for a customer-centric future.  Over time the organisation will further develop and integrate its own services, integrate into the wider health sector and establish a customer portal.

Plunket was assisted by Microsoft’s citizenship programme.

For further information:

Jenny Riches, Plunket, jen.riches@plunket.org.nz 021 405 842

Belinda Gorman, Microsoft NZ, a-begorm@microsoft.com 04 470 6595

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