Queensland Health Clinical Knowledge Network

OpenAthens and EBSCO help Queensland Health improve service delivery across a vast outback region

06 July 2017 • Sophie Allen, marketing officer

Managing and delivering healthcare services is challenging at the best of times, but for Queensland Health it is exacerbated by huge distances, sparse and remote locations, and often poor communications. Queensland Health – the public health authority for the State of Queensland in north-eastern Australia – serves a relatively small population of 4.8 million, but the region is vast; seven times larger than the UK.

The challenges

Queensland Health oversees some 200 public hospitals and healthcare facilities. One of the authority’s key functions is to ensure its 91,000 staff – particularly 60,000 doctors, nurses, and allied clinicians – have access to the most current and reliable healthcare information, regardless of their physical location. To achieve this, Queensland Health was one of the first health agencies in Australia to set up an in-house online library and web portal called the Clinical Knowledge Network (CKN). However, product affordability, managing hundreds of publisher contracts, and making CKN available to everyone, everywhere, meant the authority was hampered in providing an efficient and cost-effective service.

Queensland Health wanted to enhance CKN’s service delivery, introduce more content for clinicians, and achieve greater content integration by using tools such as a discovery layer. The agency decided to seek a third party supplier to procure and manage online content for CKN and, following a public tender in 2014, awarded the contract to EBSCO as a prime contractor and OpenAthens for single sign-on and identity management.

The solution

EBSCO and OpenAthens have developed a cloud-based platform for managing, administering, and hosting Queensland Health’s CKN information resource. The EBSCO Discovery Service (EDS), along with OpenAthens integration, enables seamless, full-text access to all resources and the ability to cross-reference between different publisher content and services.

OpenAthens provides a self-registration capability and replaces multiple log-ins with single sign-on for users, either on-site at a Queensland Health facility or remotely via any mobile device. Now users can use CKN to search across various information resources and then access each resource without having to log-in again.

Outsourcing to EBSCO has allowed Queensland Health to switch from one-year publisher contracts to five-year deals managed and negotiated by EBSCO, which is more cost-effective than before and ensures greater continuity of service.

Seeing the EBSCO-OpenAthens discovery capability in action shows why CKN is so important to clinicians and what we do matters in the context of delivering high quality health care to Queenslanders. Doctors in an emergency department can enter a patient’s vital details and symptoms and CKN will search treatment and medicines resources for a range of critical information including, for example, paediatric resuscitation protocols”

Richard Sayers, Manager, Clinical Knowledge Resources, Statistical Services Branch, Department of Health, Queensland Government

CKN provides Queensland Health staff- at all levels – with universal access to thousands of information resources. In the last 12 months, CKN handled nine million searches of medicines resources and almost a million searches of point-of-care diagnosis and treatment tools. Through CKN, OpenAthens enabled 12,170 remote access registrations.

CKN currently has around 10,000 active, off-site regular users and is about to launch a state-wide communication program about the scope and benefits of CKN to increase user registration. Future plans under consideration by EBSCO and OpenAthens include integrating CKN authentication with the corporate network directory to offer users even more seamless access.

The results for Queensland Health

"A doctor in regional Queensland was attending a seriously ill child. The doctor contacted a paediatric specialist in Brisbane and together they used our Clinical Knowledge Network to confirm the diagnosis and stabilise symptoms before the child was flown to Brisbane for urgent treatment. This is the power of the EBSCO / OpenAthens solution. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a clinician in a major Brisbane hospital or a small country facility 2,000 miles away, you have access to the same critical healthcare information.”

Richard Sayers, Manager, Clinical Knowledge Resources, Statistical Services Branch, Department of Health, Queensland Government
  • OpenAthens single sign-on essential to clinicians needing quick, simple access to multiple point-of-care healthcare resources.
  • Improves value for money, return on investment and budget stability through long-term, cost-effective publisher agreements.
  • Delivers seamless integration so clinicians can automatically and seamlessly interrogate and switch between different resources.
  • Ensures 365-availability even during extreme weather conditions; CKN operational when other networks failed during acute flooding.
  • Critical to supporting remote access across Queensland where mobile is often the only communication network.
  • CKN considered one of the largest, most comprehensive point-of-care resources in Queensland and a showcase across Australia.