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Computer facilities for health department



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PRESS STATEMENT BY THE COMMOFMEALTH MINISTER FOR HEALTH, DR. A.J. FORBES

COMPUTER FACILITIES FOR HEALTH DEPARTMENT . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ' .-II ■ ■ ■ , , c The Minister for Health, Dr. Forbes, announced

today that the Department of Health intended to purchase

large-scale computing facilities to be installed in its new

offices in Canberra. The total estimated cost was of the

order of $4.tiM,

Dr. Forbes said the Department planned to acquire

from International Business Machines two computers of the type

known as System 360 Model 65» together with magnetic disc

equipment which provided an extensive direct access information

storage system.

Dr. Forbes said that since 1964 the Department

of Health had made extensive use of the computing facilities

of the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics. The

Department had devoted most of its use of these computing

facilities to the processing of pharmaceutical benefit

prescriptions dispensed under the National Health Act. .

Currently, some 60 million prescriptions were dispensed 'annually

With advances in techniques and new equipment,

the opportunity existed to introduce new and more efficient

means of handling this immense prescription volume. The

requirements of this and other major areas of the Department

exceeded available computing capacity and necessitated

separate facilities.

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With its new equipment, the Department planned

to introduce an advanced system of data collection and

correction for processing pharmaceutical "benefits claims.

The proposed system called for widespread change in the

present processing techniques and would involve direct

communication between the Department's capital city offices

and the central computers at Canberra.. This would be carried

out through the projected P.M. U-. Common User Data Network,.a

computer-based message switching system. The Department of

Health would be a pioneer user of this system.

Dr. Forbes said the work of the Department included

a wide range of other activities which required the techniques

of automatic data processing. These activities would also

benefit from access to the new facilities. They ranged from

the specialist work required by the National Biological

Standards Laboratory to the projected development of the

MEDLARS medical library information system which would be under­

taken in association with the Australian National Library.

Dr. Forbes said specifications for the equipment

were provided to representatives of all potential suppliers

at a meeting convened by the Commonwealth Stores Supply and

Tender Board in June. The industry representatives were

invited to consider the specifications and to advise whether

their companies could meet them, and wished to be considered

further as suppliers.

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. Subsequently, meetings were arranged with four

suppliers on an individual basis. Their ability to meet

the specifications was discussed with a Commonwealth panel

of experts appointed for the purpose. As a result of the

information obtained during these discussions, the firm of

International Business Machines was selected to supply the

equipment.

Canberra, September 26 , 1969 Departmental No. 32