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Cluster steps into US Community Health Market

NZ Health IT Cluster steps into US Community Health Market

AUCKLAND, New Zealand, Mar 24, 2003 -- Community health centres (CHCs) have been identified as a significant opportunity for NZ health technology companies to gain entry into the US market in a report released today by Trade New Zealand and the UCLA's prestigious Anderson School.

A sub-section of the report, United States Market Entry Study for Health IT in New Zealand, found that the best point of entry for New Zealand's health IT companies into the highly competitive US market, which is estimated to be worth more than $US50 billion, is to provide clinical software solutions to community health centres.

Part of the US government's plans to expand access to healthcare, CHCs provide a safety net for uninsured Americans. There are an estimated 41.2 million uninsured Americans and the number of them using CHCs is growing. Government funding is being increased to cope with this rise in use, and there is a growing demand for heath information systems to support this expansion.

New Zealand Health IT Cluster executive officer Robin Ducker says that Kiwi health software companies are well placed to enter the government-funded community health sector.

"New Zealand health technology has 'grown up' servicing a public health system, whereas US software vendors have traditionally concentrated on the private health sector," says Mr Ducker. "Community health services have been slower to implement technology in the United States."

UCLA researchers have also reported that health sites in the US, UK and Canada are impressed by the flexibility and responsiveness provided by New Zealand health technology companies, and that these attributes will give NZ health software vendors a competitive advantage over others, particularly in the community health services market.

The Health IT Cluster is moving quickly to gain entry to this market by partnering with Trade New Zealand's Los Angeles office to examine specific areas of this market, including business models, funding allocation, existing projects, competitors and the technology purchasing decisions process. The market research is scheduled to be completed in the next two weeks.

Health IT Cluster members will be able to incorporate the results of market research study into their individual market entry plans and, where appropriate, collaborate with other cluster companies to tender for sales to community health centres.

"We are very pleased that Trade New Zealand is helping us move quickly on this opportunity," says Health IT Cluster executive officer Robin Ducker. "We welcome the recommendations of the Trade New Zealand/UCLA report and are looking to adopt those that will help give cluster companies a foot in the door to the highly competitive US health software market."

He says that the US CHCs is a great example of this and that the cluster's role will be to assist companies that want to incorporate this opportunity into their business and sales planning. "We want to help NZ Health IT companies take advantage of this opportunity now, while it is still available," says Mr Ducker.

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