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NZ Health System Unsustainable; Using Fragmented Digital Technologies

The New Zealand health system which is using fragmented digital technologies is unsustainable, a new benchmark health report says.

The New Zealand Health IT (NZHIT) report, a 70-page paper Hauora, Mauri Ora: Enabling a Healthier Aotearoa New Zealand, suggests and recommends how New Zealand can improve its health set up with the use and adoption of more digital technology.

London’s digital health network has provided input into the NZHIT report and has offered to assist in establishing a New Zealand digital health innovation network.

Enabling a healthier Aotearoa is currently limited by issues such as the devolved structure of the health and disability sector leading to fragmentation, lack of scale, and hindered collaboration and co-operation.

Other limiting issues include different levels of IT capability and readiness across DHBs and other providers; and a lack of consistent and effective investment in the development of data standards. This dramatically limits the ability of health providers to share data, the report says.

“Healthcare providers often see IT as a cost burden rather than an enabler or strategic investment.

“ As a result, there is continual under-investment in IT infrastructure. Privacy laws and regulations are too frequently used as a reason to deny innovation.”

The report calls for a more effective, efficient and people-centred services with faster access to critical information.

There needs to be more proactive approaches to preserving health and better patient involvement; plus, a faster detection and better response to public health emergencies, such as covid.

Digital technologies offer opportunities to strengthen health systems and help meet the increasing demand for healthcare and related services.

In managing the risks and impacts of the covid pandemic, the role New Zealand digital health companies have played, alongside the Ministry of Health and the broader sector, has shown an opportunity exists to make New Zealand a world-class digital health technology exemplar.

Aotearoa has the opportunity to enable New Zealanders access to more effective and equitable healthcare services.

The report says the health system needs regular competitive bidding for funding led by New Zealand based companies (in partnership with one or more healthcare or social agency providers) focused on the high priority needs of New Zealanders.

Shayne Hunter, the deputy director general of the Ministry of Health, says in the report there is stronger than ever interest in digital health.

The proposed digital health innovation network will oversee and enable the adoption of digital innovation within the health and disability sector, he says.

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