NHI errors drop with more robust platform

The amount of duplicate National Health Index (NHI) numbers has dropped to below one per cent a year after the index was upgraded to a new technology platform, the NZ government says.

Health Minister Tony Ryall said the new system went live in May last year with better search functionality for healthcare providers to find the right patient.

“Everyone who uses our health services is assigned a unique NHI number to ensure their personal details are correctly associated with their patient record,” Mr Ryall said.

“Doctors, pharmacists and other health care providers are able to check the national system if they can’t find a patient in their own systems.

“Since the new system was introduced duplicate NHI numbers have been dropping. For the first time they have fallen below one per cent.”

“These excellent results are due to the new system’s improved search capacity, which makes it easier for health providers to create or amend NHI numbers to find the right patient quickly.”

New Zealand first introduced the NHI in 1979 – Australia followed its lead in 2010 – and National Health IT Board figures show 98 per cent of New Zealanders have an NHI number. About 150,000 new numbers are issued each year to newborns and migrants.

In addition to the NHI number, each individual's name, address, date of birth, sex, New Zealand resident status, ethnicity and date of death are linked on the index. It is also linked to national Medical Warnings System (MWS), which contains alerts for allergies or sensitivities to medications, as well as alerts for significant medical conditions, contact details of next of kin and organ donor information.

Part of the National Health IT Board's Health Identity Programme (HIP), the new system has also integrated the former Health Practitioner Index, which has been renamed the Health Provider Index, into a single solution.

The HIP saw a migration from an existing SSR gateway to SSL to reduce transaction response times, as well as new search functionality and new address batch matching capabilities that are important for capitation-based funding for primary care.

Posted in New Zealand eHealth

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