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Health Ministry launches Information Plan

29 October 2001

Health Ministry launches Information Plan

Director-General of Health Dr Karen Poutasi today launched an implementation plan for improving the management of health information into the 21st century.

"From Strategy to Reality", which was developed for the Ministry of Health between December 2000 and October 2001, examined ways the health sector could better manage information for the benefit of New Zealanders.

In December last year, Dr Poutasi appointed an Advisory Board to facilitate the development of an information management and technology plan. The project became known as WAVE ? Working to Add Value to E-information. The 13 Board members were drawn from different parts of the health sector, and it was chaired by Hon David Caygill.

"I have been really thrilled at the huge contribution of time and expertise that has come from the health and disability sector," Dr Poutasi said. "More than 1000 people have been involved in the project, and the support is extremely encouraging."

The WAVE Project looked at aspects of health information such as how it is stored, how it is shared between providers, how medical knowledge can be accessed, how information could be managed more efficiently, and how to keep it secure.

Dr Poutasi said there were 79 recommendations in total, and of those, ten were identified as top priority ? steps that could be taken to immediately improve information management in the health sector.

"Many of the top ten recommendations are already under way," she said.

"For example, the New Zealand Health Information Service, a part of the Ministry of Health, has initiated a project to develop a distributed practitioner index, or DPI, which would lower administrative costs on practitioners and improve information quality. NZHIS is also looking at enhancing the National Health Index to allow it to act as a population register for health and disability support services."

Dr Poutasi also announced she would shortly appoint a Chief Advisor for Health Sector Information and Technology. Their responsibilities would include co-ordinating the implementation of the recommendations contained in "From Strategy to Reality".

"One of our advantages in New Zealand is that we have a high degree of computer literacy in the medical sector," she said. "For example, 57 percent of GPs use Patient Management Systems, and 47.5 percent of GPs are using the Internet to support their clinical practice. These are strengths which we must build up."

Also among the top ten recommendations were: collecting reliable ethnicity data, gathering primary care information, and creating consistent messaging standards. There is also a recommendation to launch a health portal, which would provide a consistent interface to the health and disability sector.

One recommendation actioned by the Minister of Health at the launch was the announcement of the WAVE Working Group to advise on the first steps that should be taken in the area of information standards, and on the establishment of a health information standards organisation.

The WAVE Report will available on the Ministry of Health's website from Tuesday 30 October, or copies may be obtained from Amy Rountree, on 04 496 2170.

For more information contact: Peter Abernethy Communications Manager ph: 04-496-2008 or 025-477-036 http://www.moh.govt.nz/media.html

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