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New Zealand on new Global Digital Health Index

Date: 13 June 2018

New Zealand is in phase three of its use of digital technology for health, according to a new international index.

The Global Digital Health Index (GDHI) is an interactive digital resource that tracks, monitors and evaluates the use of digital technology for health across countries.

Launched on 22 May, 10 countries are currently on the Index, including New Zealand, Malaysia, Sri Lanka and Jordan. New Zealand gets an overall score of three out of a possible five.

Waitemata District Health Board clinical director innovation Dr Robyn Whittaker participated in the initial workshop to design the Index.

“The Index comes at a great time for New Zealand, as the Ministry of Health has been working on our digital health strategy,” she says.

“While New Zealand has been doing really well on some fronts, the Index helps us to take a comprehensive look across the range of indicators and identify areas where we might be falling behind, in addition to helping us measure our overall progress.”

The Index ranks countries in seven areas of digital health and gives an overall score. It says New Zealand is in phase three for workforce; legislation, policy and compliance; and leadership and governance; and phase four for services and applications.

New Zealand comes in as only at phase two for standards and interoperability, due to the lack of a national digital health architectural framework or health information exchange. It is also at phase two for strategy and investment, with only one to three per cent of annual public spending on health committed to digital health.

However, New Zealand ranks highly for infrastructure, with good network readiness as well as planning and support for ongoing digital health infrastructure maintenance.

In the country summary, the Index says New Zealand has a “relatively highly digitised health system”, with 97 per cent of New Zealand GPs using electronic medical records in their practice.

“Most health providers use information technology to support the delivery of care, make information accessible across functions within their organisation, are interconnected with other health providers and routinely share information,” it says.

“National foundation services such as the National Health Index, NZ Formulary and National Enrolment Service support the sector in providing access to trusted and consistent reference data.”

The Ministry of Health’s Digital Health Strategy website says the Index is one of the measures that will be used to evaluate progress in implementing the new NZ Digital Health Strategy that is being developed.

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