Digital Health gets Funding Injection

New Zealand’s leading digital health umbrella group says Aotearoa is getting the injection of funding it has been calling for to bring the public health system into the digital era.

New Zealand Health IT (NZHIT) says most of the Budget’s $516 million for capital infrastructure in the health sector will go towards a new health digital system to link patient records. 

The digital health sector has been working toward joining up digital health records across New Zealand’s DHBs for quite some time, NZHIT chief executive Trent Lash says. Lash has replaced Scott Arrol who took up the top position for Dementia New Zealand earlier this year.

“We are delighted $385 million of the $516 million has been allocated for the national Health Information Platform (nHIP), to provide a seamless digital health platform across the country,” Lash says.

“The level of funding government is investing to upscale digital capability in healthcare is so important for Aotearoa.

“We will help and work with the Ministry of Health, and their deputy director-general of data and digital Shayne Hunter to make the nHIP become a reality across the health and disability system.”

Last month, NZHIT and its 165 members commissioned and released a major landmark report recommending better systems in procurement and greater support of innovation in digital health.

Lash says last Thursday’s Budget means the national health platform can really begin so it can innovation in digital health in New Zealand.

“The nHIP ecosystem opens a door to innovative digital health solutions and is a foundation from where ideas can grow. It will also potentially be a key enabler for a different approach to procurement as the programme for linking health IT records begins.”

 The platform and ongoing budget funding back up another NZHIT recommendation to empower consumers to take control of their health and wellbeing by having access to their own health records.

Other countries have already or are investing in, these systems that provide an overarching digital platform to access people’s health records.

As Aotearoa looks to recover from covid, a connected digital health system will be crucial to consumers and healthcare providers creating a digital health ecosystem nationwide, Lash says.

The first tranche of nHIP is planned to begin in July this year, taking two and half years to complete.