NZ heads towards nHIP

Pulse+IT had a whale of a time consorting with assorted hobbits this week at the HiNZ conference in Hamilton, which managed to attract a remarkable 1440 attendees and over 100 exhibitors. No offence to Hamiltonians but its proximity to Hobbiton and the conference venue are two of the main things likely to tempt people to visit the town so it's a good thing that HiNZ is returning there next year.

NZ Health Minister David Clark and Ministry of Health deputy D-G for digital Shayne Hunter showed up and both seemed pretty confident that the business case for a national health infrastructure platform (nHIP) would get up and begin a roll out later in 2020. Mr Hunter confirmed that the idea touted by the previous health minister at HiNZ in 2015 for a single, national electronic health record would not go ahead.

Instead, NZ is likely to follow the recommendations of a paper written by Wayne Naylor of the Palliative Care Council of New Zealand in 2010, which Mr Hunter alluded to in his presentation. That paper concluded that a nationally distributed or single EHR was not feasible for NZ and instead a system of multiple linked regional EHRs would better be able to construct a virtual national EHR that would achieve many of the identified benefits of a single national system. It would also be a hell of a lot cheaper, so it seems NZ is wise in going down this path.

NZ is also doing an interesting project gauging the digital maturity not just of its acute hospitals but primary and community care as well. The ministry is currently assessing district health boards against four digital maturity models developed by HIMSS. NZ did one of these about four years ago, using the electronic medical record adoption model (EMRAM) to look at how each DHB fared. At that time, only three DHBs scored HIMSS Level 5 while the rest averaged about two.

As HIMSS has now changed the criteria for EMRAM, the ministry is repeating the exercise but it's also looking at outpatients and the continuity of care maturity model as well, which includes primary care, community care, aged and disability care, and even ambulance services. It will be interesting to see what the results are.

Back in Australia, Best Practice released its much anticipated app Best Health, while Alcidion launched a new app for hospital clinicians that it says can be used with any EMR. Chamonix also released its upgrade to the Healthi app, which allows consumers to access their My Health Record on their mobiles.

Members of the Health Informatics Society of Australia (HISA) and the Australasian College of Health Informatics (ACHI) are now being called on to vote for or against a proposed merger of the two organisations into a new Australasian Institute of Digital Health. While the name doesn't trip off the tongue when it comes to potential acronyms, it seems highly likely the merger will go ahead in February. The existing relationship with HiNZ will be maintained.

And finally, this week we heard that Australian Digital Health Agency COO Bettina McMahon has resigned. She will be working on some important initiatives over the next seven weeks before heading off into the sunset after 10 years working for NEHTA and its successor, ADHA tells us. This will come as a blow to the agency as Ms McMahon not only has a deep knowledge of the digital health sector but she is also one of the few staffers of either NEHTA or ADHA who is almost universally respected by the industry. Her ability to wrangle mutinous software vendors and her calm competence will be missed.

Next week, the Australian National Audit Office is table its audit of ADHA's implementation of My Health Record, which aims to assess the effectiveness of the implementation of the My Health Record system under the opt-out model. The audit criteria include whether the implementation promotes achievement of its purposes; whether the risks are appropriately assessed, managed and monitored; and whether monitoring and evaluation arrangements for the My Health Record system are effective.

To get in early, we thought we'd ask your thoughts in our weekly poll: Do you think the implementation of the My Health Record system has been effective?

Last week we asked: Does ADHA have a good mobile strategy for My Health Record? Nope, most people say: 79 per cent said no and just 21 per cent said yes.

Sign up to our weekend edition or Pulse+IT Chat to vote, or leave your thoughts below.

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