Print Page   |   Contact Us   |   Report Abuse   |   Sign In   |   Join HiNZ Features

Providing a bridge between clinicians and IT supports well-developed digital health solutions

Wednesday, 15 August 2018  
Share |

Return to home page


Picture:Bay of Plenty DHB clinical director for informatics Matthew Valentine. editor Rebecca McBeth


Bay of Plenty DHB clinical director for informatics Matthew Valentine says his personal interest in health informatics combined with executive support led to his role being established and then expanded.


Emergency physician Matthew Valentine has always looked for opportunities to be involved in health informatics, but it was not until he moved to New Zealand that he got the chance to make it happen.


Valentine is originally from Oregon, USA and moved to New Zealand in 2008.


“I began working a little bit with the DHB and IT department, just trying to help them with some clinical prioritisation for projects they were being asked to do,” he explains.


In order to meet the requirements to become a fellow of the Australasian College of Emergency Medicine, he took some courses at The University of Auckland and then looked to see what else he could do with the credits.


“I saw the health informatics programme and began the process to get some formal training and things have snowballed from there,” he says.


Valentine has since completed sufficient credits to gain a postgraduate diploma in health sciences for health informatics and became clinical director of informatics at Bay of Plenty DHB in 2014.


The stars align


As the DHB was starting to see the need for a clinical informatics role, Valentine “kept sticking [his] nose into IT projects whenever [he] could”.


He was supported by the general manager of information services at the time, Owen Wallace, and says this executive level support was key to getting the role established.


It started small at just .1 FTE, but 18 months ago this was increased to .4 FTE, an acknowledgement of the work Valentine has done and the value of the role.


“It’s a pretty open job description,” says Valentine.


“The DHB gives me a fair amount of leeway to do whatever I think is the most important, useful thing for my time and I appreciate that faith they have in me.”


Valentine says he provides a bridge between the clinicians and information services.


“I help IT understand the clinical issues and clinical concerns of the health staff and I also spend a lot of time helping the clinical staff understand the challenges that IT have and just how much they have on their plate to keep things running,” he explains.


The change management training that was part of the university health informatics programme has come in especially handy with resource planning and the prioritisation process.


Valentine also represents the DHB in a variety of other settings, such as being involved in the Ministry of Health’s consultative group on the National Electronic Health Record project and the Health IT Forum.


The job


Bay of Plenty is one of five DHBs working together on the Midland Clinical Portal, which provides a read-only view of real-time patient information via a shared instance of Orion Health’s Clinical Portal product.


Ultimately, each of the DHBs will transition off their existing clinical workstations on to the Midland Clinical Portal, which will allow staff to write directly into the shared system.


In the meantime, Bay of Plenty DHB has been running other projects such as electronic ordering for lab results and e-referrals for internal radiology and cardiology procedures.


“They are things we will likely do with MCP in the future, but we need some local solutions in the meantime while that’s coming online,” he says.


“It’s also proving useful to start to understand those processes regardless of the ultimate digital solution we implement, as it’s critically important to understand the processes and requirements that go into these tasks.”


The DHB uses an in-house developed electronic medical record called CHIP (clinical health information portal), but many clinical processes are still paper based.


“There’s been a lot of work towards paper light, especially in outpatients, getting a lot of paper records scanned and made available electronically,” he says.


Bay of Plenty DHB is exchanging information with primary carers, using a system that displays community pharmacy dispensing information within the DHB’s results management system Eclair from Sysmex.


GPs can also apply to get access to a limited patient record from CHIP via a button in their practice management systems.


“That sharing of information back and forth has been really invaluable,” Valentine says.


The DHB has also recently worked with local primary health organisations to use an extract of patient information from the GP systems and display it within CHIP. This includes demographic information, immunisations, problem lists, alerts, allergies and medications.


Speaking the same language


Valentine says being a clinician definitely helps when having conversations about information sharing.


“We are speaking the same language clinically and we understand each other’s roles much more readily,” he says.


“It does really help to work together and come to a solution.”


Valentine firmly believes that the health system will not be able to meet the challenges of the future without really well-designed systems aided by decision support and says more emphasis needs to be on preventative care.


“I would love to put my specialty out of business but we have got a long way to go for that,” he tells


While New Zealand can feel like it is behind the rest of the world in its development of EMRs, for Valentine it “feels like we are on a good track to actually solve clinical problems with these systems, trying to make clinicians’ jobs and lives easier.


“Whether we succeed or not is yet to be seen, but that’s very much both the explicit stated goal and the understanding people have about what we are trying to do”.

Return to home page

HiNZ, PO Box 300125, Albany, Auckland 0752, New Zealand.

Membership Management Software Powered by YourMembership  ::  Legal