DTO transformation program to target Medicare enrolment and faxed referrals

The federal government's newly launched Digital Transformation Office (DTO) has developed a program that it says will enable it to begin to transform key public services in just 20 weeks, and has chosen Medicare enrolments and improved outpatients bookings in Canberra as two of the first projects.

The DTO was set up by then communications minister Malcolm Turnbull in May last year with a grant of $95.4 million. The idea is to ensure that all new and redesigned government services are simpler and easier to use and can be completed from start to finish online.

Part of Mr Turnbull's “digital by default” policy, the DTO is part of a wider $254.7 million “digital transformation agenda” that will see the government implement a Digital Service Standard, modelled on the UK's Digital by Default Service Standard.

The agenda will also see the government design and deliver more services for individuals through the myGov system – which has had no shortage of bad press – with what Mr Turnbull claims will be an improved digital inbox and 'tell us once' services, new voice authentication and digital identity services, and a new digital account for all Australian businesses, enabling them to access these services using a myGov credential.

The DTO's new 20-week program involves a discovery period, in which the office will start working with agencies to map the broader service landscape, researching needs and problems and understanding policy intent and technology constraints.

The process then moves into an alpha phase, in which hypotheses are testing by building prototypes, followed by a beta phase to build an accessible and secure minimum viable product for release to the public.

The idea is to allow the public to trial the beta alongside the existing service, and use their feedback to improve the service. It will then move into the live phase, in which teams and processes are put in place to continue operating and improving the service.

(An example of an alpha assessment that the DTO has published is the Department of Immigration and Border Protection's citizenship appointment booking service.)

In an online post, the DTO's head of strategy and transformation Daniel Searle said Medicare enrolments and the proposed Canberra outpatients booking system were both in the discovery stage.

“Enrolling for Medicare often requires paperwork and face-to-face time with Medicare staff,” Mr Searle wrote. “Our research found there's lots of manual handling of data that the Department of Human Services already has access to.

“We want people to be surprised by how easy it can be to interact with Medicare and to deliver a service that’s built for users.”

He said the DTO was in the discovery phase with the ACT government, where it is looking at improving outpatient appointment bookings at community health centres. The plan is to release a beta version publicly in May 2016.

“In our first discovery sprint, we met with the staff that triage referrals and make appointments with the appropriate health specialists within the community-based services,” Mr Searle wrote.

“Listening to their stories, we heard a near majority of the 1500 written referrals they process each month are completed by fax. That means a lot of double-handling and manual processing of referral documents that could perhaps be avoided.

“So even though we’ve just begun, already we’re identifying the opportunities for improvement.”

He said the DTO was also in discovery with the Queensland government to develop a system to better inform seniors about their eligibility for a Seniors Card and concessions. This is expected to be released to the public around April 2016, he said.

Posted in Australian eHealth

Tags: eReferrals, Digital Transformation Office

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