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Health Forum NZ Launched In Response To Covid-19

Health Forum NZ is a platform for connecting up all health professionals in New Zealand, says its founder Nathan Kershaw.

Kershaw launched the forum on 16 March 2020 and it has since attracted more than 1200 members from across the health workforce.

It uses the same platform as the Clinical Informatics Leadership Network (CiLN), called Discourse, to connect up the country’s health professionals and allow them to communicate and collaborate during the Covid-19 pandemic.

CiLN and Health Forum NZ are both supported by Health Informatics New Zealand (HiNZ).

“Our mission is to make it easier for health sector professionals to collaborate, share insights and help each other,” says HiNZ chief executive Kim Mundell.

Kershaw who is also co-chair of CiLN, says the forum is hosting a group of more than 300 GPs; 130 anesthetists; and more than 50 each of intensive care doctors, emergency care doctors, and health informaticians.

He is aware that most clinical groups are using social media platforms such as What’s App and FaceBook to communicate via closed groups, but believes these are not clinically appropriate due to issues of data protection, privacy and ownership.

“They are also not designed to deal with multiple threads of conversation,” he explains.

“The real benefit of Health Forum NZ is the ability to collaborate nationally and across disciplines.

“New Zealand has good structures within organisations for communicating and collaborating and reasonable ones nationally for single disciplines, but where we struggle is when we start having complex conversations that involve different specialties and different groups of health professionals,” he explains.

Kershaw says there has been a strong move towards multi-disciplinary approaches to patient care, but the country has struggled to have multi-disciplinary discussions on a national scale because it has not had the platform or ability to do it.

“I hope that Health Forum NZ enables much richer cross-fertilisation to occur,” he says.

On Health Forum NZ, more than 200 threads have been created so far and almost every one of them relates to Covid-19.

These cover a range of topics including theatre protocols, data modelling and personal protective equipment.

Another category focuses on wellbeing and positivity during this difficult time.

Hits on the site peaked at 9000 and average around 5000 a day.

New members can apply to join at where they are carefully vetted to ensure they are health professionals, or they may be invited by a senior member of the forum.

The forums are provided free to health professionals and run by volunteers. The operations costs for Health Forum NZ and CiLN are paid by HiNZ.

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