Doing digital across the ditch
After the utter shambles that was last week in Canberra it was a relief for Pulse+IT to head over the Tasman to check out what the K Ones were up to at the annual Health Informatics New Zealand conference in Rotorua this week.
Having just come off their own drawn-out political saga we were wondering what the vibe was like over the ditch, what was happening with the New Zealand Digital Health Strategy, and whether it would turn out like the bit of a damp squib that Australia's seems to have done.
Turns out we didn't get to hear too much about the strategy, the unexpected change in NZ's government meaning that any new policy or position is on hold until the new minister puts his oar in. That appears to be the fate of the digital health strategy for the time being, meaning chief technology and digital services officer Ann-Marie Cavanagh was forced to repeat pretty much word for word a previous presentation as her plenary address. It was left up to her deputy, Darren Douglass, to eventually release the Ministry of Health's vision for health technology, which involved lots of nice words but not much else.
The conference was mercifully free of politicians as new minister David Clark had hot-footed it down to Christchurch to have a chat to the Canterbury District Health Board, which has been having right set-to with the Ministry over funding. Solving the tensions between the Ministry and the DHBs is likely to be the first order of business for Dr Clark in his new job and it will be interesting to see if certain bureaucrats survive the transition.
Back at HiNZ, there were quite a few interesting presentations on Waikato DHB's SmartHealth project, which we've reported on quite a bit in the past. This project involves the use of the HealthTap telehealth app from the US, the purchase of which has ruffled some feathers locally, particularly those of the local primary care sector.
But while SmartHealth was prominent, everyone was on their best behaviour when it came to talking about one of its main proponents, Waikato's recently departed CEO Nigel Murray. The New Zealand Herald has been reporting diligently on this saga, which saw Dr Murray resigning over his expense accounts, including irregular receipts for accommodation for, as the Herald delicately put it, “two women who were not his wife”. Not so smart after all.
Back in Australia, the big news this week was Allscripts picking up its first contract outside of South Australia, where it's rolling out the EPAS system. Allscripts is set to implement not just an EMR at Latrobe Regional Hospital but in a range of small hospitals and even smaller community health centres. InterSystems was initially the favourite for this contract so it'll be interesting to see what their rival comes up with. We're likely to have more on that next week.
Our top story for this week though was the request for tender by Queensland Health for a new practice management system for senior medical officers who also work in the private sector. As expected, vendor DXC Technology will no longer support the practiX practice management system after September next year and Queensland is now on the hunt for a new one, mainly to handle billing.
DXC was also in the news at HiNZ, where the company's senior health strategist Byron Phillips spoke about the company's new Health360 platform, which has been built using Microsoft Dynamics 365 and promises to bring customer relationship management (CRM) into the healthcare sector.
Calling a patient a consumer is anathema to some in healthcare but Mr Phillips made a pretty good argument for adopting the term customer, or at least the principles of customer service and customer-centrism. As Darren Douglass mentioned in his presentation, we've been talking about patient-centred care for years – in the Crossing the Quality Chasm report by the US Institute of Medicine in 2001 and in Eric Topol's bestseller The Patient Will See You Now in 2015 – but as Mr Douglass argued, if we are still just talking about it in 10 years' time and not a lot has changed, then we aren't really doing our jobs.
We recommend you have a look at our story on the DXC presentation and what the company plans to do with Health360, which is already in use in the UK. It also brings us to our poll question for the week: Do you think CRM software can be used effectively in healthcare?
To vote in this poll sign up to our weekend edition or leave your comments below.
Our poll last week asked: Is the dysfunction in Canberra having an adverse effect on health policy? That would be a big yes, according to 72 per cent of our readers. 28 per cent reckon it's all hunky dory.
Tags: HiNZ 2017