Te Whatu Ora – Health NZ is rolling out Microsoft 365 E5 as part of a national cyber security programme it inherited from the Ministry of Health.
In 2021, the Ministry of Health assessed the current level of cyber security in the health sector, including the ministry’s digital systems, to identify and prioritise areas for improvement.
By the end of the year, the National Cyber Security Uplift programme had been established to increase cyber security maturity in the health sector from a rating 1.7 to 3.5 over three years.
The programme has ten building blocks, divided into three core areas for improvement, Te Whatu Ora told Parliament’s health select committee in July.
The first is improving sector capability including bringing in more cyber security skilled people, a refresh of the Health Information Security Framework to suit multiple user types and awareness and training for people working in the sector.
The second is to build system and network defences against attack or to reduce the impact of a successful incident.
“The biggest of these is the introduction of Microsoft E5 tools which better protect and defend computer systems against human error and successful breaches with little impact on IT users,” Te Whatu Ora said in answer to committee questions.
The third focuses on detection, response and recovery including managing vulnerabilities and increasing visibility across IT systems and threats while building a fast, effective response to attacks.
“This work will reduce the time to recover systems after an attack and lessens the impact on healthcare services to New Zealanders,” Te Whatu Ora said.
The investment comes after a ransomware attack on Waikato DHB disrupted services for months starting last May. The hackers accessed confidential patient notes, staff details, and financial information.
Radio NZ reported that while all of the DHB’s servers were up to date, five per cent of its desktops were still running Windows 7, support for which ended in January 2020.
According to Microsoft its 365 E5 product combines its productivity apps with advanced security, compliance, voice, and analytical capabilities, extend identity and threat protection with integrated and automated security. It also brings together information protection and advanced compliance capabilities to protect and govern data and reduce risk.
Te Whatu Ora also inherited the former Ministry’s Hira programme, which supports a new way of accessing and sharing people’s health information with connections to health and disability data.
“Hira will enable access to a virtual electronic health record by drawing together a person’s latest health data from trusted sources, the agency told the committee. “It will support better health for all New Zealanders, by improving the way health information is accessed and shared.”
The programme business case covers three investment tranches endorsed by Cabinet in April 2021. The detailed business case covering tranche one funding was approved in October 2021.
Another ongoing project is Health Sector Agreements and Payments (HSAAP), which is transforming systems to support the implementation of the Government’s response to the Health and Disability System Review and improve the underlying stability of applications to mitigate systems failure risk.
HSAAP systems process approximately 120 million transactions a year and up to $390 million in payments each week. Over the next decade, it will be required to distribute up to $12 billion annually in payments.
The HSAAP programme is tasked with modernising processes and technology, with the right mix of people, in both Health New Zealand and across the sector.
It will also deliver a stable, secure and reliable system to enable procurement advice and the set-up of contractual agreements, improved processes for managing agreements and payments services monitoring and the reporting of performance metrics, and a better understanding of data to provide insights to inform change.
Greater support to help funders and providers access information systems and services, understand data to enable service monitoring and reporting, resolve challenges around agreement establishment, and to manage exceptions that interrupt payment processing are also part of the picture.
A new national immunisation register to replace the existing end-of-life National Immunisation Register (NIR) is also now part of Te Whatu Ora’s workplan.
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