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Tamaki Makarau – New Zealand has 1.22 doctors and 3.8 nurses per bed compared to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) average of 0.75 doctors and 1.8 nurses per bed, a new health report says.

While New Zealand’s resource intensity in hospitals is high, health expenditure per capita was just below the OECD average.

The figures feature in the New Zealand Health IT (NZHIT) latest report, a 70-page paper – Hauora, Mauri Ora: Enabling a Healthier Aotearoa New Zealand.

“While we should be cautious in making a broad interpretation of this data, as countries vary in their healthcare system contexts, we can question whether these resources have been effectively converted into improved health outcomes,” the report says.

“New Zealand continues to have high rates of cancer and diabetes, and Māori and Pacific peoples experience ongoing disparities in health outcomes. In 2017, the Productivity Commission identified the importance of information flows in improving both health outcomes and measuring health sector productivity.

“Additionally, the MBIE found that the delay in the implementation of new technologies can be a factor in reduced productivity. Our healthcare system is also influenced by other modern pressures.”

A significant proportion of New Zealanders live in socio-economic deprivation and this is recognised as highly relevant in addressing health status. However, we have not been able to develop the interconnectivity necessary to achieve a more holistic approach, NZHIT chair Kate Reid says.

Consumers are increasingly demanding greater access to and control of their health data, policy makers and managers are looking to stretch budgets through increased effectiveness and efficiency, and clinicians are seeking more timely and accurate support, she says.

“Aotearoa New Zealand is a first-world country where too many of our people do not enjoy a first-class health system.

“More than 160 members of NZHIT are convinced that digital health innovations and solutions can make a difference.”

The report makes a series of suggestions how to improve digital health in Aotearoa:

  • Provide programmes to improve the digital literacy and skills of the entire health workforce
  • Provide clear pathways for the health workforce to engage in digital roles
  • Prioritise digital education within the syllabuses of all clinical training
  • Reward on-the-job digital capability skills uplift through professional development and foster clinical industry internships or job placements
  • Invest in digital solutions to enable more effective models of care which enable consumer choice, flexibility and informed decision making
  • Provide all New Zealanders with easy access to information relating to their specific health status
  • Ensure all consumer facing digital investments are secure, certified, and digitally inclusive
  • Create a strong international brand for New Zealand as a leader in digital health
  • Promote our digital health companies in offshore markets, both individually and collectively.

For further information contact Make Lemonade editor-in- chief Kip Brook on 0275 030188.