E-Health and ICT: Opportunities amidst Uncertainty
31st August, 2010
Matt Hill, Public Sector Analyst
Despite electoral uncertainty, both state and federal authorities are pushing forward ICT and e-health tenders and reforms with significant commercial ramifications for firms involved in the procurement sector.
The tumultuous politics in the lead up to the August 21st general election has cast its shadow over what has been a busy season of developments in ICT and e-health. At the federal level, on June 24th the House of Representatives passed legislation paving the way for the creation of national healthcare identifiers. A crucial component in the roll-out of personally-controlled electronic health records, the legislation marks another phase in the Gillard government’s $467 million, two-year strategy to expand e-health Australia-wide. Regardless of the uncertainty surrounding the future of the federal program under a Liberal-led coalition government, general demand for e-health systems is likely to see sustained growth driven by persistent administrative cost pressures on both public and private sector healthcare providers.
While the ICT industry has also felt the impact of political ambiguity, commercial prospects remain buoyant for firms focused on government procurements. The pace of federal tenders has been largely unaffected by recent events. The Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO), an agency of the Department of Finance, has advertised for interest in contracts to provide internet-based network connections after initially releasing a proposal in March. In doing so, the AGIMO’s adherence to a whole-of-government approach to ICT procurement echoes our earlier coverage of other federal measures to deal with Canberra’s increasing ICT demands, particularly with regards to datacenter operations.
Similarly, there continues to be significant dynamism in ICT procurement at the state-level. Recent reporting on the Northern Territory's $130 million ICT tender bundle is indicative of the persistent interest from and opportunities for the government procurement sector, with the involvement of both major multinational subsidiaries such as Dell Australia, and local firms including Kinetics, Ltd. In NSW, early reports on the state’s latest shared services strategy suggest that many core ICT services will be outsourced. Following on our previous analysis, Sydney appears to be moving towards a hybrid services model that combines in-house ‘hubs’ within large departments, supported by a single wholesale ICT provider. These developments are demonstrative of the fluid environment in government procurement nationwide.