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Digital Nations focus on future health

Wednesday, 14 March 2018   (0 Comments)
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eHealthNews editor Rebecca McBeth


PICTURE Top: Dr Robyn Whittaker opens the Digital Nations Future Health Conference

PICTURE Bottom: Dr Lance O'Sulllivan speaks at the Digital Nations Future Health Conference


International summit explores issues of data privacy, consent and ownership, and hears that leadership, clinical engagement and patient engagement are all needed for successful health digitisation.


The move towards person-centred care and issues of privacy and consent to use health data were debated at an international summit in Auckland last month.

The Digital Nations 2030 summit of Digital 5 nations on 19–20 February focused on health as one of its five themes for 2018. 


Waitemata DHB clinical director innovation Robyn Whittaker said in her opening address for the Future Health stream that the role of health professionals will change as patients start to sit at the centre of their health information and decisions made about their health.


“We are moving away from a location-centric, expert-centric health system to anytime, anywhere care,” she said.


Whittaker questioned why, if everyone knows where health is heading, we have not managed to get there yet.


She believes the foundations of a digital service need to be established as a first step, before control can then move from experts into the hands of patients.


Finally, deep learning and artificial intelligence will be used to provide advice to clinicians and consumers about how to manage their health on a daily basis.


Whittaker added that it is highly important that digitisation of the health system does not increase inequities in the system.


Waitemata DHB develops its digital service with its priority populations in mind. By doing this, everyone benefits, and no one is left behind, she explained.


Dr Lance O’Sullivan, founder and chair of Navilluso Medical and developer of iMOKO software for community-based virtual health services, said that, for some, the current health system is “poor” but using “simple technology in a smart way” is a great starting point for improving it.


He said vulnerable communities have access to technologies and are comfortable using them. “We just aren’t being brave enough to ensure that the new models of care we want to deliver are being offered to them,” he said.


O’Sullivan added that New Zealand needs a new workforce of digital health workers to meet the demand for digital health services that is sure to come.


A morning panel also discussed how to enable the benefits of predictive health and that key to this is the use of big data.


The panellists agreed that to unlock the power of health data for research, the question of who owns the medical data first must be resolved. When patients have control over their own data, they can consent to it being used in different ways.


MoleMap NZ chief executive Adrian Bowling said his company had found that more than 99 per cent of patients are happy for their anonymised data to be used for research.


Revera digital health lead Dr Will Reedy spoke in the afternoon panel session. Reedy was chair of the Ministry of Health’s national electronic health record advisory committee.


He said that the big questions being debated were around privacy and consent.


“When you collect the data, where should you put it and how should you control access to it?” he asked.


An even bigger debate was around secondary use of health data and implied consent for its use, Reedy added.


He outlined the three key success factors for health digitisation as being leadership, clinical engagement and patient engagement.


The five countries involved in the D5 are New Zealand, United Kingdom, Israel, Estonia and South Korea.



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