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Why digital health systems are the secret to future-ready care – part one

Monday, 14 September 2020  
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Industry Article -Ergotron


Part one: How digital bridges the gap between the needs of tomorrow and the systems of today

The challenges of healthcare have always been wickedly complex. The practice involves a difficult balance between the human need for individual treatment and the system’s need for standardised processes. 

In 2020, things are even more difficult. The New Zealand population is aging rapidly while also - thanks to widespread internet access - becoming more informed health consumers. People expect

and deserve personalised care and are increasingly presenting with Long Term Conditions rather than acute problems. 

But the issue of updating our health technology systems to match modern medical needs has become knotty. Plans for a whole-of-country Electronic Medical Record were replaced in 2019 with a strategy of integration under a proposed national Health Information Platform (nHIP). Now, the nHIP is facing delays.

While policies stall, the gap between traditional management practices and what our patients and healthcare workers require widens. This was especially evident when the COVID-19 emergency arrived and a system suffering from what one report termed “accumulated underinvestment” was put under more pressure. 


Assessment scores for patient administration systems, The National Asset Management Programme for district health boards Report 1: The current-state assessment June 2020, page 60


“You can’t just put a video conferencing solution on top of aged infrastructure as it falls over,” Co-chair of the Clinical Informatics Leadership Network Ruth Large told in June. “It’s like trying to put the roof on a house without doing the foundations first.” 
Our systems were stretched under the weight of the crisis. It was the diligence of our health workers and sound policies that saw us keep the tragic toll of the virus relatively low. There’s no guarantee that, without systematic updates, this success can be repeated during future emergencies. 

This outlook may sound grim, but there is good news. A solution to these challenges already exists. Data from overseas shows that implementation of digital health strategies can rapidly align healthcare systems with modern needs. While many DHBs and institutions have begun the journey toward digitisation, the full range of benefits isn’t seen until the process is complete, which can take years. But, the positives that come with full digital adoption are too numerous to delay.

Personalised patient care

Digitisation is the first step toward individualised healthcare. Reliable, readily-available and detailed medical records help staff engage patients in preventative care on their own terms, better track progress, and allow for a team of health practitioners to work together seamlessly. Early studies already show improved patient outcomes.

Ease the burden on staff
By creating an integrated record management system and automating care processes, a digital health approach gives staff more time to do what they do best - care for patients. 
In June, the Ministry of Health released a report evaluating the current state of DHB infrastructure and concluded that productivity was severely impacted by the “…ageing infrastructure, limited network capacity and devices not fit for purpose” used in our digital systems.

Better budget efficiency
The Ministry of Health report also estimated that DHBs spend more than 90 per cent of their IT budgets on propping up outdated and inefficient systems. Systemic overhaul would free up significant budget for re-investment in other areas. Cost savings are felt at the institutional and hospital level too, with digitisation enabling higher productivity, better clinical decision-making, and cost efficiencies around line items like consumables. 

To learn more about the adaptation of EMR systems, register now to join the Live Webinar sponsored by Ergotron, EMR – a strategic sustainable approach - at 12.30pm on 23 September. 


Ergotron is a leader in supplying digital-ready and enabling equipment, distributed in New Zealand by Sektor Ltd. 


For more information visit or contact us on about how we can help you benefit from digital health transformation.

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


Read more features:

Data and the pandemic – Waitematā’s story
Cloud enables Covid scale-up

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