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New Zealanders the winners from Health Innovation

New Zealanders the winners from Health Innovation Awards

Twenty-five finalists in the inaugural New Zealand Health Innovation Awards have come up with ideas and systems that will make a big difference to the lives of New Zealanders, say event sponsors ACC and the Ministry of Health.

The finalists, health providers and medical practitioners from around the country, were selected from 190 applicants.

"Some of these are simple, easy ideas that speed up diagnosis and rehabilitation," said ACC's General Manager Healthwise, David Rankin.

Ministry of Health Deputy Director-General of Clinical Services Colin Feek said the quality of the finalists was exciting but not entirely surprising.

"We see reminders every day of the impressive commitment health professionals have to continually improving the treatment, care and recovery of New Zealanders," he said.

Among the innovations were an e-business system that take the bureaucracy out of health services, and support tools that get information onto doctors' desktops when they need it.

Dr Rankin said a community care project that provides home help for the elderly has the potential to save millions of dollars because it keeps them at home for a fraction of the cost of hospital accommodation.

Another example is a new medical centre in Balclutha that puts a range of providers under the one roof and takes on much of the work of the now-closed hospital. It has been a huge success.

In similar vein, Christchurch's Empower Rehabilitation brings doctors, physiotherapists and sports people together. The benefit for ACC is that these centres provide good rehabilitation and faster returns to work.

The winners will be announced at an awards ceremony at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa in Wellington on May 12, 2003.

The winner of each category (individual, group and organisation) will receive a certificate and a cash prize of $8000 and will be eligible to win the Supreme Award of $15,000. A popular choice award of $5000 will also be presented.

Finalists will present their ideas through multimedia seminars and trade fair-style displays on May 12 as a key aim of the awards is to promote the sharing of innovative products, services and processes.

The innovations are also great examples of how kiwi ingenuity is helping improve the health service and make limited dollars stretch that bit further.

A team of evaluators and panel of judges independent of the Ministry of Health and ACC are assessing the final detailed application forms from the finalists and may make site visits to scrutinise the entries.

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