Former Clinical Research Network CIO Richard Corbridge now aims to make Ireland one of the first countries with an e-health ecosystem that will drive national healthcare. Tracking patients through their digital journey will open up to reform the way in which care is provided, the quality of the care itself and patients' perception of the provision

Corbridge left his role as CIO of the National Institute for Health Research's Clinical Research Network at the end of 2014 and is now Chief Executive of eHealth Ireland and the CIO of the Health Service Executive, effectively the NHS in Ireland.

Corbridge was a popular speaker at the 2014 CIO Summit, and has written a number of guest columns on CIO UK about prioritisation, security, healthcare data and starting a new role.

When did you start your current role?
December 2014.

What is your reporting line?
Director general (CEO).

Do you meet with and discuss business strategy with the CEO every week?
Yes.

Are you a member of the board of directors?
Yes.

What other executive boards do you sit on?
Design authority, system reform group.

Does your organisation have a CDO?
No.

What non-technology responsibilities do you have in the organisation?
System reform of business change and benefits realisation. Business intelligence. Innovation enterprise engagement.

How many employees does your organisation have?
100,000.

What number of users does your department supply services to?
100,000 staff, up to four million patients.

How do you ensure that you have a good understanding of your business and how your customers use your business's products?
Through clear, concise engagement on the strategy for solution delivery. Working groups created with clinicians and patients involved at the earliest stages, and clinicians and patients provided with a 'seat' at the design authority.

Also the appointment of a chief clinical information officer within the Office of the CIO (OoCIO) to enable a direct line of engagement with clinicians and therefore a thorough understanding of the needs of the system.

Clinical Research Network technology strategy and IT agenda

Is your organisation being disrupted by the internet, mobility or technology- oriented start-ups?
Yes.

Are you empowered by your organisation to disrupt from the inside?
Yes.

Describe a disruptive measure you’ve led or played a major part in
The delivery of eHealth Ireland as an organisation in its own right is a disruptive action I have been empowered to lead. eHealth Ireland is a function/organisation created to ensure that the most can be gained from health informatics and applied to Ireland, its population and clinical capability.

The e-health ecosystem will facilitate the deployment of best-in-breed systems throughout a whole nation, which is a unique opportunity that few countries have taken up to now. The ecosystem will "improve population wellbeing, health service efficiencies and economic opportunity through the use of technology-enabled solutions".

What major transformation project has been recently completed or is under way at your organisation?
Within my first two months we launched two key transformational projects as part of eHealth Ireland:

1. The delivery of e-referral from every GP practice to hospital care provision by the summer of 2015, reducing the time from referral to in-patient data for the patient and removing the need for circa 22 process actions that the old system required.
2. The creation of a unique identifier - the individual health identifier (IHI) - for use in health for every patient in Ireland. It's a key enabler for the provision of free primary healthcare for patients under six years old and for the joining up of the healthcare system through digital means.

In addition the planning for the first national digital hospital is now under way for the National Children's Hospital in Dublin, a new build to be opened in 2019.

What impact will the above transformation have on your organisation?
It will deliver the first stages in a five-year plan to ensure that Ireland's healthcare system is driven by digital capability in a secure, business-led environment. The capability to track patients through their digital journey will open up the possibilities to reform the way in which care is provided, the quality of the care itself and the patient perception of the provision.

How has your leadership style contributed to the outcomes of the transformation project?
I bring knowledge of how to ensure that these benefits can be gained through many years' experience in healthcare IT. My leadership style is to be as open as possible. The organisation is going through a period of significant change, so as a leader I need to be mindful of the disruption to the team. The OoCIO is the most important asset in delivering change. I value my team and through my leadership style try to show this.

What key technologies do you consider enable transformation?
In the Irish healthcare system, simply moving to a digital environment and being able to adopt new technologies through a move to cloud solutions will be a huge part of the 2015 strategy, as will a more encompassing business intelligence strategy that will make more of the information collected and how it is used.

Are you increasing the number of cloud applications or infrastructure in use at your organisation?
Yes.

What is your information and data analytics vision for the organisation?
To make the most from data collected, to unify the approach to data collection and analytics, and to build trust in information provided.

As with many global healthcare systems, a great deal of data is collected but is not currently turned into information or insight as often as it could be. The vision for 2015-20 is to ensure that if data is collected it can be used to improve the delivery of healthcare or the patient journey.

Wherever possible a move to self-service analytics is also a key driver, as well as opening up the statistical capability of the health service to the public and academia.

How is mobile and social networking impacting operations and customer experience?
Mobile and social are expectations of the modern service user. Patient journey pilots are in place in a number of hospitals that allow the patient to plan and schedule their journey through the system from a mobile device. Also in pilot are mobile apps for the provision of social care interaction within the home.

Describe your strategic vision towards shadow IT and BYOD. How do you influence and engage executives and employees around choice?
BYOD is challenging within the healthcare environment due to security perceptions. The OoCIO is tackling this through the creation of clear information security and governance principles so that staff across the estate can understand the risks and advantages associated with BYOD and make educated and informed decisions.

Shadow IT is a significant issue in Irish healthcare. To attempt to bring this under control, robust design authority principles have been proposed and budgetary controls applied. Once these principles have been accepted then the concepts associated to shadow IT can begin to be better controlled, and integration and standardisation can effectively be applied to 'shadow' projects already under way.

Who are your main suppliers?
A very wide range of suppliers from Microsoft to CSC to Oracle to SMEs with core capability on niche products.

Clinical Research Network IT security and budget

Has your organisation detected a cyber intrusion in the last 12 months?
Yes.

Has cyber-security risen up your management agenda?
Yes.

Does your organisation understand the potential cyber-security threats it faces?
Yes.

Has this led to an increase in your security budget?
Yes.

What is the IT budget?
€65m.

How much is the IT operational spend compared with the revenue as a percentage?
3%.

What is the strategic aim of the CIO and IT operations for the next financial year?
To create eHealth Ireland to deliver the required programme for business change and technology implementation as well as make live several key delivery projects.

Are you finding it difficult to recruit the talent you need to drive transformation?
Yes.

Has recruitment and retention risen up your agenda as a CIO?
Yes.

Are you looking for recruits in the EU to fill the skills shortage you have?
Yes.

Does your IT organisation operate an apprenticeship scheme?
No.

Clinical Research Network technology department

How would you describe your leadership style?
Open and listening. I am aware of the need to bring a team on a complex change journey and want to ensure that the OoCIO is a great place to work within the whole organisation.

Explain how you’ve supported and developed your senior leadership team to support your overall objectives and vision.
The team are going through a restructuring programme at the moment and are engaged in this rather than it being prescriptive. We are creating a structure for the OoCIO that will allow us to grow into eHealth Ireland and deliver both innovation and keep the lights on.

The team have the opportunity to consider additional training through the Cranfield mentoring and buddying IT leadership course. We have also scheduled team building activities, including media training for difficult questions as well as more traditional activities.

How many employees are in your IT team?
350.

What is the split between in-house/outsourced staff?
340 in-house, 10 outsourced.

Does your team include key skilled workers from the EU?
No.