Info sharing concept that's worth bottling

Monday, 16 May, 2016 | Supplied by: Objective Corporation

The National Blood Authority has implemented a secure collaboration platform that is locally hosted and provides complete auditability and traceability.

The National Blood Authority’s (NBA) primary role is to provide a safe, secure and affordable blood supply for all Australians. As a centralised resource, the NBA works on behalf of all Australian governments and manages over a billion dollars’ worth of blood-related products per annum.

“If it is blood related, then we are involved. We source blood and blood-related products such as immunoglobulin, ensuring its availability in hospitals across Australia,” said Peter O’Halloran, the NBA’s executive director and CIO.

Based in the ACT, the NBA also:

  • manages tenders and supply contracts with global pharmaceutical companies;
  • works with a range of stakeholders to ensure appropriate risk management of the blood supply;
  • produces clinical guidelines relating to blood and immunoglobulin;
  • develops and administers national ICT systems such as BloodNet, to manage the blood supply chain, and the Australian Bleeding Disorders Registry, an electronic register of people with haemophilia.

“Working across nine governments and over 400 hospitals, sharing information and collaborating with external parties in a secure and auditable way can be a nightmare,” added O’Halloran.

Due to the critical and often sensitive nature of the work conducted by the NBA, ensuring up-to-date records is key. Whether it is a freedom of information request, an application from an Auditor General or a request from a hospital, the NBA needs to be able to substantiate everything it does.

“It’s the compliance framework we operate in and [with which] we need to comply. Every single thing we do, every single record is potentially discoverable and may need to be provided at any point,” said O’Halloran.

To ensure compliance, the NBA implemented HP TRIM many years ago as its records management system. “Internally we have a strict information governance approach and we embrace electronic records management in a very big way. If you walk around our office, you won’t actually see much paper,” said O’Halloran.

While effective within the four walls of the organisation, the NBA was unable to extend its recordkeeping policy and infrastructure when it needed to work with someone outside of the organisation.

“We constantly work with parties outside of our organisation. We need to ensure that all information that is shared is secure and that there is a detailed audit trail,” said O’Halloran.

“There are security implications in relation to risk management,” he added. “There are commercial considerations when conducting tenders with global pharmaceutical companies — leaked commercial information can impact stock prices for listed companies and damage our ability to gain access to blood products at financially sustainable rates. In terms of our committee papers, these can impact government policy and our outcomes can have an impact right through to every taxpayer.

“Internally, we had created a sound information governance framework that was controlled and compliant with legislation, government policy and best practice. However, as soon as we shared information with someone outside the building we’d lose all of that transparency and traceability in an instant,” said O’Halloran.

To ensure information was not getting into the wrong hands, the NBA resorted to distributing paper records through safe-hand couriers or shipping encrypted hard drives across the globe — wasting precious time and slowing innovation.

After a detailed review of the market, the NBA implemented Objective Connect. Not only did it facilitate collaboration with external parties, it also met the NBA’s requirements in terms of security and information governance.

“Objective Connect ticked all of the boxes — locally hosted, complete auditability of every interaction. It is IRAP assessed, complying with the requirements of the ISM set by Australian Signals Directorate — which is critical when we are exchanging sensitive information. And with Objective Connect Link, we get deep integration with HP TRIM, our on-premise document management system,” said O’Halloran.

Objective Connect Link enables information to be shared directly from electronic document management systems: HP TRIM/Records Manager, Microsoft SharePoint and Objective ECM.

“HP TRIM is our single source of truth — no matter if the work is happening internally or externally, we need to know who has access to information and what they have done with it. Objective Connect integrated with HP TRIM gives us that — a complete audit trail,” said O’Halloran.

“As an extension to our information governance framework and policy, we made the business decision that the only way you can share information externally is with Objective Connect. It means that there is a full audit trail in HP TRIM, every single thing is fully traceable, which is a big difference,” said O’Halloran.

“It’s not only about getting the information out to external parties, Objective Connect also makes it easy to get information back in,” he added. “For example, if we have people sitting on tender evaluation committees, we make the papers available to them through Objective Connect. Their feedback comes back to us via Objective Connect, which provides us with a complete audit trail of the independent advice we received.”

O’Halloran and his team completed a return-on-investment review after implementing Objective Connect.

“We have saved over $40,000 per annum in postage, courier and printing costs, but the most important saving is staff time. By moving to full electronic distribution we have freed up more than one full-time equivalent staff member. That’s a saving of over $100,000 per annum,” said O’Halloran.

Objective Connect has also meant that the NBA can be more flexible with its working arrangements.

“We no longer need to have consultants based in Canberra or pay for them to travel to Canberra. With Objective Connect in place, we can have consultants based wherever they need to be in Australia and they can still work effectively,” said O’Halloran.

Image courtesy Dave Herholz under CC

Phone: 02 9955 2288
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