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Covid-19 Digital Response – Secondary Care introduces a regular round-up of news from health providers across New Zealand on how they are using data and digital services to provide care and support patients and staff during the Covid-19 outbreak.

MidCentral DHB

MidCentral DHB is reviewing and expanding its digital capabilities.

Chief executive Kathryn Cook says, “MidCentral DHB already utilises remote access technology for clinicians and corporate staff that allows our staff to work remotely and preparation has begun on extending remote access capacity to allow for increased remote working.

“We are also preparing to expand our current telehealth systems to support virtual meetings and wider consultations with patients, where appropriate. Additional cybersecurity will be put in place to ensure patient privacy and confidentiality.

“We are working closely with other New Zealand DHBs to review whether we can speed up delivery of a range of digital health initiatives.”

Bay of Plenty DHB

A statement from the Bay of Plenty DHB says many patients have started asking for their appointment to be via phone, Facetime, Skype or Zoom.

“This is not an easy change to make and some outpatient consultations do require physical assessment or hospital tests,” the statement says.

“However, where it is safe and suitable for patients we are going to start trying out alternative ways to providing care. This is something we have been working towards for some time, before the Coronavirus outbreak.”

The statement warns that the system will not work perfectly every time as the DHB makes significant changes to its internal processes to allow the new way of working.

Some patients will be contacted about having their outpatient appointment via telephone and some clinical teams will start doing video consultations.

Canterbury DHB

Christchurch Hospital’s paediatric diabetes team is offering young people with type 1 diabetes web-based appointments to protect them from possible Covid-19 contact.

Paediatric endocrinologist Martin de Bock says, “it’s a creative and easy way to get around face-to-face consultations. For our young patients and their families, it’s simple and convenient, and it is socially responsible given the current pandemic.”

During a web-based consultation the team can still provide prescriptions, adjust insulin, and troubleshoot as normal.

Taranaki DHB

Taranaki DHB’s Clinical Information Reference Group chair Yariv Doron says the DHB’s Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services transitioned all appointments to be conducted via telehealth from March 23.

Other mental health services will follow and the team is working on expanding this to the rest of the DHB’s outpatient clinics.


3DHB incident controller Joy Farley says Capital & Coast, Hutt Valley, and Wairarapa DHBs use a range of options to care for and support patients remotely.

“These include following up with patients by phone, and video-conferencing with GPs. Similar measures and options will be explored across other services where appropriate,” she says.

“Many of our staff have the ability to work from home, and are being advised to discuss this with their manager to determine whether this would be appropriate.”

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