A local perspective
New Zealand’s leading CIOs joined a roundtable, hosted by HiNZ , where they discussed barriers to the adoption of digital health solutions, as highlighted by healthcare leaders in the 2021 Philips Future Health Index Report. As part of this discussion, Stuart Bloomfield, CIO of Waitematā DHB & Counties Manukau Health, made note of the positive advancements that have taken place during the pandemic period, in particular the integration of technologies enabling greater sharing of information, currently taking place between health systems. Looking more broadly to long-term industry change, leaders want to diversify their adoption of digital solutions to align potential benefit with those most positively impacted by the innovation.
What a future national digital healthcare system in New Zealand would look like, and what these services would need to provide, in order to benefit both patients and practitioners, is not yet clear. The Digital Health Strategic Framework  outlines some of the ways technology can impact the healthcare landscape in New Zealand and empowering patients and supporting clinical staff are two of the most definitive reasons to move to new, digitally led ways of working, as highlighted by Darren Douglass, GM Digital Strategy and Investment at the Ministry of Health.
Ensuring the sector adopts relevant digital solutions has the potential to rapidly expand access to care, while equalising patient and clinician equity and building a system that responds to the needs of all parties. Telehealth services are a testament to this, increasing access to care for patients, while working to effectively minimise the pressure on hospitals and clinics. More importantly, it’s played a major role in responding to peak periods of activity, as reported by Waitemata DHB conducting 10,000 telehealth appointments in one week in August , a volume that would be unachievable using strictly traditional models.