NZ advantages on health IT threatened

Innovation has stalled, says Health IT cluster CEO

The CEO of the New Zealand Health IT Cluster, Andrea Pettett, says strategic leadership is required to reintroduce innovation and development in health IT systems.

She says while it has taken Australia some time to get to where New Zealand has been for “many, many years”, there is now considerably more investment and activity in health IT in Australia than is evident here.

“We’re losing our leading edge and there are not a lot of innovative projects. We need to get the momentum going again.”

Pettett says such strategic leadership involves getting the parties together and boosting collaboration and working on policy, regulation and governance, but not to “do it all” when it comes to delivery. That part falls to the health IT sector, she says.

The cluster represents parties interested in health IT delivery, including vendors and developers.

Pettett says funding issues are stalling progress. While New Zealand is still arguably ahead of Australia, in terms of having had a single patient identifier and being soon to have a single provider identity, innovation has stalled.

“There are some issues – funding and long and overly bureaucratic decision making,” she says.

She says there is a “can-do” attitude in New Zealand vendors, but they need help to get business cases and seed funding together.

“Government can help there,” she says. The existence of unique patient and provider identifiers lays a foundation for “great leaps” in e-health delivery.

New Zealand’s patient identifier, the National Health Index, has been in place since the 1970s and underwent a major cleanup in the 1990s.

“It really is a unique identifier,” Pettett says.

The Ministry of Health is now rolling out a single provider identifier, the National Provider Index, that identifies the practitioner, the facility they are providing from and the organisation they work for. Such systems allow information to follow the patient and the provider rather than being locked within the provider facility or organisation.

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