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Time is right for action on health information

Hon Pete Hodgson
Minister of Health


21 March 2006 Media Statement

Time is right for action on health information

The health sector is now ready for a major push to improve the quality of health information in New Zealand, Health Minister Pete Hodgson said today.

The Minister's comments follow the Auditor General's release of Progress with Priorities for Health Information Management and Information Technology.

"Quality health information plays a key role in the continuing drive to improve public health services," Pete Hodgson said. "Improvements in health information will mean improvements in patient care and improvements in the government's ability to address major policy challenges.

"This government made it clear in 2001 that the state of health information in New Zealand was in many areas simply not up to scratch.

"We signalled the need for greater investment and an increased focus on areas like information technology and data management, which had been sorely neglected under the previous government.

"But we also knew that the entire health sector was in need of reform. It would have been counterproductive to build new information systems when we were changing the very way our health system operated with the introduction of District Health Boards and Primary Health Organisations."

In Pete Hodgson's expectations letter to District Health Boards – written shortly after he received the health portfolio late last year – the Minister listed urgent action on health information to be among his top priorities, saying "the Health Information Strategy must be progressed this year (2006) significantly faster than has been the case in recent years."

In their report, the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) acknowledges that progress has been made under this government, but also agrees that, "the sector is now in a better position to more quickly address remaining information priorities."

There have already been several announcements about improved health information this year – including improvements to emergency triage waiting times and outpatient surgery data.

Pete Hodgson said further announcements are expected throughout the year.

ENDS

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