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Ministry to release Strategic Framework for Digital Health

Friday, 5 July 2019  
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Picture: Ministry of Health deputy director general data and digital Shayne Hunter.

 

eHealthNews.nz editor Rebecca McBeth

 

The Ministry of Health will release a Strategic Framework for Digital Health in the next couple of months, says deputy director general data and digital Shayne Hunter.

 

Hunter, who took up his role in March of this year, was speaking at the HealthTech 2019 conference in Auckland on 2 July.

 

He told attendees the sector desperately wants strong leadership and that is a major focus for the Ministry going forward, as well as developing partnerships.

 

The Strategic Framework identifies six enablers for the digital health ecosystem: interoperability; architecture and standards; foundation services; security, privacy, trust; investment and commercial frameworks; and innovation frameworks.

 

Hunter said one of the questions around investment and commercial frameworks is how to shift from a model of capital investment for big expensive business cases, towards a model of continual investment to deliver and adopt digital health solutions.

 

Also key is ensuring that patient information follows the patient, no matter what system a health provider is using.

 

“Part of it is making sure we’ve got the right commercial frameworks in place when signing up with a particular vendor of a product,” he told conference attendees.

 

For example, when moving data to the cloud, organisations need to have an exit plan, answering questions of who owns the data and how it can be moved, he explained.

 

Foundation services refers to what is done at a national level to support the digital health ecosystem, such as the National Health Index, identity management and the planned national Health Information Platform to connect disparate sets of information.

 

Architecture and standards are also being worked on at a national level, as the message from the sector is that it wants decisions made and guidance in this space.

 

Interoperability is also key, as it allows data and information to be joined up more easily and involves mechanisms to allow systems to interoperate.

 

Hunter said he could not emphasise enough the criticality of maintaining security, privacy and trust when dealing with patient data.

 

“In this world of connected devices, we need to be in absolute control of this or there’s potential for privacy breaches and issues of trust,” he said.

 

“Undermining social license gets in the way of delivering for our patients and consumers.”

 

Hunter also said there is more work to be done on funding innovation.

 

The framework has five objectives. One of these is that people are in control of their own health information.

 

Hunter said that getting patients more engaged in their own care is critical to the transformation of the health system.

 

“No matter what technology we have, if we can’t get patients engaged in their wellbeing, we will struggle to achieve the benefits and outcomes that we seek,” he told the conference.

 

Other objectives are as follows: access to digital services and health information improve health outcomes and equity, digital services enable health providers to deliver better services, digital services increase the performance of the public health system, and data insights provide evidence to make and support informed decisions.

 

If you would like to provide feedback on this news story please contact the editor Rebecca McBeth.

 

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