Source: MIL-OSI Submissions
New Zealand’s leading digital health organisation, NZ Health IT (NZHIT), today pleaded to the government to urgent take action on recommendations in the Simpson report released yesterday.
NZHIT chief executive Scott Arrol says he is pleased the report, on the future of health in New Zealand, has captured most of the key components required to create full enablement of digital health technologies but he doesn’t agree these can’t be commenced right away.
“Covid-19 has shown all of us just how important digital tech is to our health, wellbeing and economy not only now but when it comes to future outbreaks,” he says.
“It is a key enabler in the delivery of healthcare services and it’s now been shown to be an important part of our ability to save lives.
“From birth to death and throughout our lives digital health now influences positive and negative health outcomes, let’s be passionate about making sure it’s the former as our fantastic little country deserves no less from us all.
“Digitally smart countries such as Taiwan and South Korea have learnt and prepared over the last 20 years since the SARS epidemic, which killed many lives. So, New Zealand must not drop the ball on our digital health technologies which have such a crucial part to play in creating a world class health system for all New Zealanders.
“Being an enabler is one thing, but we must drive early and hard to achieve full enablement as that’s the only way we’ll see real transformation occur, anything else is going to be tinkering around the edges and we will have missed a once in a lifetime opportunity.
“The business case for the development of the national health information platform is sitting with Cabinet for sign-off now.
“It’s understandable that approval has been delayed during the lockdown period but, like opening up our economy, it now has to be fast-tracked so the country gets ahead of the curve in creating a health system we can be proud of and one we can rely on when the next pandemic comes along.
“For instance, following covid-19 and the looming economic recession, New Zealand should be embracing virtual health. We showed that we can do it during a life-threatening national emergency, but it’s not been locked in and we’re already seeing many healthcare providers dropping back into pre-covid business as usual practices.”
Health consumers have had a brief touchpoint of just how powerful and convenient virtual healthcare can be and are calling for more control and access to their own health records.
Arrol says this isn’t just a local thing, as the digital health market worldwide will reportedly grow by a projected $US192.5billion in the next seven years.
“So, not only can we deliver on the promise of using digital tech for all New Zealanders’ health and wellbeing but wouldn’t it be really cool to see our clever and innovative digital health sector drive export growth and earnings by being empowered to take advantage of the worldwide market. It’s a win-win situation that takes advantage of a number of synergies that are now coming into alignment but won’t stay that way forever.
“There’s a growing digital divide that is not waiting for our politicians to take their time in deciding whether to sign-off the business case or not.
“We can’t afford for further delays to occur. Crikey, we’ve already been waiting nearly 20 years for this level of validation to finally occur. There is a swelling level of frustration across the health sector from clinicians right through to patients that now is the time to be bold and brave and definitely not a time to be risk averse as there’s far more to be gained.”