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NHI to be added to tracing app

Sunday, 30 August 2020   (0 Comments)
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Return to home page editor Rebecca McBeth


People will be able to add their National Health Index (NHI) number in the next update to the NZ COVID Tracer app and the Ministry of Health is looking at enabling daily health check-ins for people in quarantine or isolation.

The MoH is also considering implementing a national Practice Management System at all managed isolation and quarantine facilities.

NZ COVID Tracer has more than 1.9 million registered users and there have been 26 million scans of QR codes, which became mandatory at all businesses this month and will become mandatory on all public transport from Friday.

An MoH spokesperson says it intends to include the ability to add an NHI number “if you know it and want to in the next update to the NZ COVID Tracer app”.  

An NHI number is a unique identifier that is assigned to every person that uses health and disability support services in New Zealand and having it handy speeds up the testing process by making it easier to match the test result to the individual.

Issues with matching people with test results arose in June when the government was unable to say how many people had left managed isolation without getting a Covid-19 test because there were two databases operating and NHI numbers were not being routinely collected for new arrivals into New Zealand.

However, the National Contact Tracing Solution (NCTS) has since been expanded to support the border process and NHIs are being matched or assigned to everyone entering the country.

Managed Isolation and Quarantine facilities are using a range of Practice Management Solutions to collect health information on new arrivals.

The Ministry spokesperson says it, “is working with the sector and other government agencies to understand the integration requirements and data flows regarding these PMS so we can best support the Covid-19 response.

“It is possible that a common national PMS would be beneficial, but no decision has been made on that.”

Health Minister Chris Hipkins told a media stand-up today that improving Bluetooth proximity functionality and digital daily health-check-ins may be included in a future update to the app.

An MoH spokesperson told last week that self-check-in functionality has not received final confirmation and no trials have taken place to date as until recently, this was considered a lower priority.

“The Ministry is re-examining this at present,” the spokesperson said.

A final report on New Zealand’s contact tracing system by Brian Roche, released this month, says “ongoing effort is required to simplify and make more useable the current app, together with clarifying the role of other technologies such as the Bluetooth Card and/or other improvements made by Google and Apple.

“The role of technology to support contract tracing is a fundamental enabler of a high quality and responsive system,” it says.

“Having readily accessible high-quality information is critical to success irrespective of its source.”

The report confirms that the National Close Contact Service and all public health units are now using the NCTS, which was built in just one week by repurposing the National Screening Solution platform.

“The Ministry has made impressive gains on the NCTS functionality and on PHU buy-in nationally,” the report says.

“An ongoing optimisation process is continuing. The system performed very well in relation to contact tracing of the recent border control breaches and is acting as a valuable catalyst to ensure that all participants can access the same case records.”

It says three indicators have been prioritised in major documentation: time to seeking a test, time for a test result to be available and time until contact traced and in quarantine.

A dashboard for the indicators has been developed to enable the Ministry, PHUs and other key stakeholders to monitor and compare performance.

“The committee recommends that the Ministry should continue to develop the NCTS to support other diseases that have an impact nationally (e.g. measles, whooping cough), but notes that this is not a current priority and should be adopted as and when time permits,” it says.

Hear deputy director general data and digital Shayne Hunter and GM digital services Michael Dreyer speak about digital solutions for Covid-19 contact tracing during a webinar on 9 September from 1.30-2.30pm.

Register for free.


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

Read more news:

COVID Tracer App alert sent as virus re-emerges
Leveraging the opportunity of Covid-19

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