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New Zealand’s health system rates strongly on global transparency index

Wednesday, 12 April 2017  
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New Zealand has performed strongly in a global report on healthcare transparency – although the study has identified some key areas for improvement.


The just-released report by KPMG International compares the transparency of healthcare systems around the world. New Zealand was ranked 7th out of 32 countries; slightly behind Australia and the UK, and equivalent to comparable countries such as the Netherlands.


Andrew Tubb, KPMG’s Advisory Partner for Healthcare and Human Services in New Zealand, says the results are illuminating.


“This is the first study of its kind to examine transparency in healthcare across a range of measures – from governance and finance, to the sharing of personal healthcare data.”


Overall, he says New Zealand achieved a “well-balanced scorecard”.


“In some respects, we are the envy of the rest of the world. We can demonstrate high levels of transparency surrounding the governance and funding of our healthcare system.”


In fact New Zealand received the highest ranking of 94% (along with Denmark) for transparency of governance. This reflects the fact New Zealand’s healthcare model is predominantly publicly-funded, coupled with a strong regulatory environment and expectations of public scrutiny.


“Ministry of Health and ACC funding processes, and DHB tenders for services are very robust and transparent,” says Richard Catto, a Wellington-based Healthcare Director with KPMG.


“The study also revealed an interesting fact – we’re the only country that requires boards and healthcare providers to maintain a register of gifts and hospitality received.”


The study also highlighted some key areas where New Zealand could improve, says Catto. The country had a relatively low score on transparency of patient experience (54%).


“Traditionally, we have been very focused on measuring healthcare outputs, as opposed to outcomes. For example, we know how many hip replacements have been performed, but not necessarily the extent of patient benefit derived from those surgeries.


“However we are starting to do some good work in this area. The patient experience is probably the most important area for New Zealand to focus on as we strive to become a truly quality-driven healthcare system.”


Another emerging area in global healthcare, notes Catto, is the trend towards patient-enabled healthcare. Both Denmark and Norway have a patient portal; where patients can view, contribute to or add to their personal health data (including medical notes).


“New Zealand has traditionally been hesitant to adopt this kind of technology, due to privacy concerns,” he says.


“But the concept of patient portals is almost certainly the way of the future. It is likely to be commonplace within the next 5-10 years.”


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