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NZ’s health IT sector on verge of a new era

NZ’s health IT sector on verge of a new era

November 2, 2016

New Zealand’s hospital and healthcare industry is on the verge of a digital breakthrough, New Zealand Health Information and Technology (NZHIT) chief executive Scott Arrol says.

Hospitals, clinicians, specialists and private health providers are advancing rapidly into the digital world which is beginning to change the way patients are being treated, Arrol says. He was speaking today at the NZHIT annual meeting in Auckland today.

“We have a fast growing, a strong and innovative health technology industry enabling the delivery of quality health and social services that also provides the platform for international growth. NZHIT is the peak industry body for the health IT sector representing a growing network of organisations and individuals that operate in the NZ health and social sectors.

“We have seen a 41 percent growth in our network with 120 members. Looking ahead we will continue grow as we experience a considerable change in the sector that creates opportunities and risks for everyone. The NZ Health Strategy has set a course of travel over the next 10 years that requires us to be partnering to develop and implement new technological solutions.

“The government spent $15.6 billion on health in the 2015-2016 year. That accounts for about 80 percent of all health spending meaning as a country we spend close to $20 billion a year on health.

“Yet healthcare costs continue to increase due to new technologies and medicines. Global health spending per head is expected to rise by 4.5 percent a year from 2014 to 2018. In this environment, healthcare providers are challenged to find new ways to manage costs and efficiency without compromising service quality.

“Advances in technology are profoundly changing the way health is managed. While the adoption of technology has been slowly improving health outcomes it is more recent emerging technologies that present the biggest opportunities. With the decreasing cost of sensors, the increasing power of data analytics and advances in both robotics and genomics healthcare is entering a technology revolution.

“Globally, hospitals have been slow to adopt robotics and artificial intelligence into patient care, although both have been widely used and tested in other industries. Surgeons are already using robots in the operating theatre to assist with surgery. Since 2000, more than two million operations worldwide have been performed by about 3000 surgical robots.”

Arrol was a healthcare manager for more than 16 years and involved in health service delivery. He understands what it takes to position IT as a key enabler of models of care and health service delivery. He also believes New Zealand has some of the leading exponents for developing IT solutions specifically for the health sector.

Arrol says New Zealand’s health IT sector has a huge opportunity to grow its international presence and build significant export returns. He believes it’s time to move more exporters up the ladder.

“In its own right the health IT sector should be targeting at least $1 billion of exports over the coming five years, that would then provide the platform for a further $1 billion-plus to be added through to 2026.

“None of this can be achieved unless we’ve a strong, local health IT industry that is enabling leading-edge health services for New Zealanders, and can use these proof points to establish offshore success stories.”

ends

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