Austin Health completes phase one of rollout under HealthSmart program

System currently used by 400 staff

Victorian health care provider, Austin Health, has just completed phase one of a HR rostering and payroll system that has reducing processing time by 70 per cent.

The workforce planning and management system, which was first piloted last year and is currently being used by 400 employees, is being rolled out under the Victoria government's HealthSmart program.

This system will be integrated with other HealthSmart systems across the state.

The standardised platform from Kronos Incorporated provides award interpretation, time and attendance, employee pay conditions and rostering.

In coming weeks Austin Health will begin the second phase of the project to automate roster generation.

The generation process will take into account both employee requests and skills to meet clinical and patient care requirements.

Austin Health's HR systems project manager, Leslie Bell, said the system reduces the amount of time taken by line managers to prepare and manage rosters and by payroll staff to process pay.

"The system has reduced the time required to enter the data for payroll processing by 70 per cent, and reduced the errors and warnings by delivering accuracy in excess of 99.5 per cent, which was unheard of previously," Bell said.

"All the payments made to employees in the pilot areas have been checked and verified, with the system exceeding expectations."

As well as being on time and within budget, Bell said Austin Health will continue to measure key benefits from the implementation believing the system will play a key role in coping with the severe workforce pressures currently facing the health sector.

The Asia Pacific healthcare division manager of Kronos, Sharon Lowry, said the company is helping health providers deal with the wider issue of skills shortage and staff retention within the healthcare industry.

Staff shortages continue to impact Australia's e-health agenda with the National E-Health Transition Authority (NEHTA) looking offshore to try and fill the resources gap.

NEHTA is charged with implementing Australia's e-health framework and has admitted to serious delays as a result of a national skills shortage, particularly when it comes to recruiting IT staff.

The decision to look offshore for IT staff this year has been necessary to ensure the implementation of electronic health records could begin in 2008.

NEHTA was established in 2005 to undertake IT health reforms but claims "labour capacity constraints" in the local market has forced IT project timelines to be revised.

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