The message from the healthcare sector has been loud and clear – we need collaboration, efficiency and effectiveness in the delivery of healthcare and we need it now. This message was further reinforced when New Zealand Health Minister Jonathan Coleman spoke of New Zealand’s future digital health strategy at the recent HiNZ conference; and by keynote speaker, Lord Nigel Crisp, whose talk on a modern healthcare sector that would be patient-centric and digitally enabled emphasised the need for everyone to play their part.
“That’s really what the last year has been all about,” says New Zealand Health, Information and Technology (NZHIT) CEO Scott Arrol, “Once the NZ Health Strategy was announced, and really even before then; industry partners, clinicians, policy makers and consumers have all been discussing and working toward making this vision a reality.” Signalling the industry’s drive toward cooperation and collaboration, NZHIT also announced their initiative to develop the “NZ Vision for Interoperability” at the organisation’s annual general meeting during the HINZ Conference in Auckland. (http://bit.ly/2fhspB5).
A catalyst towards achieving an interoperable, collaborative environment began in December 2015 when NZ Health Inc. was established (http://bit.ly/1lTVG50). The vision of this group is to create an open ecosystem that is a key enabler of improved health and wellbeing; and generates economic growth for New Zealand.
The four founding members of NZ Health Inc. – Sysmex, CSC, MedTech and Orion Health are long-standing participants in the fast-growing, innovative tech sector and along with the thirty plus partners of NZ Health Inc., already have the experience and expertise in collaborating on multiple projects throughout many years of commitment and investment in the New Zealand health sector. Highly successful examples of these include TestSafe and HealthOne which currently have 1.5 million people in the northern region of the North Island and 580,000 people in the South Island respectively, already with a shared electronic health record.
“The members of NZ Health Inc. have focussed their resources this year on establishing a true collaborative environment,” he continued, “They all recognise that interoperability is the best way forward and that working together will enable the success of the NZ Health Strategy, faster and at a lower cost; with healthcare providers and patients benefiting from better integration, data access and workflow interoperability.”
NZ Health Inc. members are committed to opening up information and services within their applications. Throughout the year, Sysmex, CSC, MedTech and Orion Health have regularly worked together on a series of think tanks and architecture workshops to discuss and identify the use of modern standards-based on operability approaches such as the creation of a FHIR-based API library. Recent workshops have also seen great progress in the scope and development of working proofs of concept that can meet the demands of high-priority clinical and patient-centric use cases.
“There is a lot to be learnt from the successes and failures from other countries although New Zealand’s particular situation puts it in a unique position to be a world leader” says Scott, “we’ve got a world class health strategy and leadership within the health IT sector that I believe will result in other countries looking to NZ’s modern healthcare system as a lesson in the successful implementation of a shared national electronic health record achieved through a true collaborative environment.”