George said health professionals need access to the right information in the right place at the right time, and reiterated that data standards are key as they enable the exchange of health information.
However, the digital capability of the health workforce is similar to that of consumers and both groups need to be upskilled in this key area.
“We need to enable and empower our workforce: it is crucial that we start looking at tools and research to underpin how we meet the needs of our workforce in order to improve their confidence and their competence,” she said.
Jensen agreed that lack of digital literacy amongst staff can be a major barrier to technology adoption in health.
She added that the DHA produced a report in 2021 that recommended the creation of a Digital Health Academy to enable online learning in digital tools and technologies.
George also said there is an increasing emphasis on clinical value and the contribution of clinical informatics at a more national level, as well as partnerships with industry.
“Our contribution adds value, and we can support our industry partners in developing fantastic products and fantastic solutions, because this is about mutual benefit and advantage,” she said.
Digital uplift is a key priority in New Zealand’s interim Health Plan – Te Pae Tata which highlights the need to develop greater use of digital services to provide more care in people’s homes and communities.
Currie said the restructuring of the health sector is a positive step towards a more seamless and integrated health system in New Zealand.
“There is a unique opportunity to embed the digital, data-driven practices we’ve gained throughout the Covid-19 crisis into everyday healthcare operations, and to rethink how and where care is delivered,” she said.
Currie added that despite the rapid rise of virtual care and increased data sharing in the wake of Covid-19, digital transformation of healthcare across the globe has been piecemeal so far.
“Healthcare systems need to overcome several barriers to move from pockets of digital innovation to a sustained and integrated approach to digital transformation,” she said.
Jensen agreed that New Zealand’s interim health plan and health system reforms provide a huge opportunity to reset the current landscape.
“We have the chance to provide a more streamlined and efficient way of working in a far better more continuous patient experience,” she told webinar attendees.
“I would really like to see innovation in the digital health space championed here in New Zealand. We have a lot of really amazing products and I would like to see how we build out ecosystems and enable them to move forward.”
Kenworthy said New Zealand has some world-leading innovation, and the country has all the conditions to rapidly scale nationally.
“The opportunities here are as big as anywhere else in the world, so to any New Zealand health provider, or industry partners who are only thinking about serving the local market, I say embrace the standards and go for it,” he said.