Both Warner and McGill see other encouraging signs. Earlier this year, Australia's largest health group, Mayne Health Group, acquired the second largest: Australian Hospital Care. Now Mayne Health, operating under the reins of new managing director Peter Smedley, is Australia's largest private health care provider and most diverse logistics operator, with 15 per cent of the private hospital market. Smedley is no stranger to the strategic value of IT. He was previously group managing director and chief executive officer of Colonial Limited. Before that he was executive director of Shell Australia, where he ran the coal and metals operations and then the oil and chemical business. So Smedley knows all about IT bang for buck. As part of his mission to translate strong top-line growth into respectable bottom-line performance, Smedley is concentrating on drawing out any potential synergies within Mayne's portfolio of health care businesses. Introducing a single basic IT system across the group is a first priority.
"They [Mayne] are certainly looking at a centralised IT solution that they can roll out across all their different sites," McGill says. "Smedley has a very good grasp of where IT can significantly impact on efficiencies, customer service delivery and customer communication. He's bringing that experience into the health care environment. "So what we're saying is in the broader private health care sector there are now some very strong and growing corporate groups who are looking at information technology as a core way of gaining efficiencies across their system. There are executives who have very strong backgrounds in applying IT strategically to their businesses and that's probably a relatively new situation in health care."
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