Telstra e-health role under AGIMO scrutiny

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Telstra e-health role under AGIMO scrutiny

Does the e-health records plan meet data centre procurement guidelines?

Plans to use Telstra's cloud computing offering to store elements of the Federal Government's personally controlled e-health record (PCEHR) are in limbo after it was discovered they do not yet meet whole-of-government procurement guidelines established by the Department of Finance and Deregulation.

The Department of Health and Ageing is in discussions with the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) - a subset of the finance department - over how use of Telstra's secure infrastructure-as-a-service would align with guidelines mandating government departments use a whole-of-government endorsed data centre supplier.

Telstra was among the eight parties included in Accenture's successful consortium bid for the infrastructure portion of the $466.7 million records project. However, it has not been named as a supplier to AGIMO's whole-of-government data centre panel.

It is believed Telstra would ultimately use its "Network Computing Services" private cloud offering to host the bulk of web portals used by healthcare providers and patients alike to update medical information and manage access to the records.

Telstra would also host the National Repositories Service, a centrally located "critical set of healthcare information" providing details on the individual repositories hosted by federal and state government agencies, which would host the actual records.

The system was expected to be live and open for registration with at least 500,000 patient records by July 1 next year.

However, Telstra's hosting role fell foul of the whole-of-government provisions established in March for provision of data centre services to major government agencies.

The facilities panel currently lists ten parties, having been updated last week to include Sydney-based Macquarie Telecom.

The envisioned services, according to the Department of Health, were deemed "cloud-like".

As the procurement was handled by Health and not lead transition body NEHTA, the services would not fall under the separate data-centre-as-a-service offering planned by AGIMO for small government agencies or the public cloud provider plan due to be unveiled by the lead procurement body in December.

The Department of Health was yet to outline how it would comply with the data centre procurement policy at the time this story was published.

Representatives of Health and AGIMO said the two agencies were working on an agreement.

"Matters such as ongoing hosting of the operational services including data centres are yet to be considered and approved," a spokesperson for Health said.

They affirmed the department would "never contemplate the use of any public cloud computing facilities, nor any facilities located outside of Australia.

"The detailed design for the PCEHR will be tested against the Department of Finance policies and guidelines," the spokesperson said.

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