A greater level of district health board funding, supported by national funding, has been called for by the National Health IT Board to pay for proposed health information solutions.
In the 2008/09 financial year the DHBs combined investment in IT projects was $60 million, with the cost of operating and maintaining health IT systems coming in at $170 million.
The board has released New Zealand’s first national health IT plan to set priorities for regional and national IT investments over a five-year period.
The board says in its executive summary that though the main audience for the plan is clinical, it is relevant for all health sector participants engaged in planning or delivering health care services.
“It is a five-year view that is integrated with the long-term planning framework being developed by the National Health Board and with other plans for national services, workforce, capital and shared services,” the plan states.
It is focused on ehealth, meaning that each patient will have a virtual health record with information stored electronically and accessible, regardless of location, by linking to existing systems.
The five-year plan proposes shared-care planning for specific health events, and long-term care that is supported by a single shared-care record developed by the patient, their family/carer, and their health professionals.
Hospitals in each region are required to operate a common platform for: a patient administration system; a clinical workstation; and a regional clinical results repository. Common platforms are a way of describing a standard set of software systems that are used throughout a region of New Zealand.
Phase one of the plan is consolidation, cooperation and foundation, and is to be implemented from July 2010 to June 2012. It includes such things as the replacement of systems managing patient, practitioner and organisation identity to lay the foundation for Phase two.
Phase two (July 2012 to December 2014) focuses on shared care, beginning with a design and proof-of-concept phase.
As part of information so far gathered, a survey of systems deployed by DHBs has identified 90 different functional categories, each of which represents a system or a functional module of a system. The board says this has created a very complex environment that is difficult to maintain and modify.
Leadership of clinicians to help govern, design and champion the implementation of information solutions, is seen as a key success factor for the plan. Another is an open and transparent partnership with health care IT vendors.
Also important is the certification of information solutions against agreed standards, to ensure that information is available, accurate and secure.