Exactly the same but entirely different

This article first appeared in the October 2014 issue of Pulse+IT Magazine.

We may share a common language, historical ties and healthcare systems based on a similar model, but the way Australia and New Zealand has gone about automating those health systems over the last two decades is very different. While Australia continues to struggle to get the PCEHR to work, New Zealand has an enviable system of electronic exchange of information between the different tiers of healthcare provision.

Their flags are almost indistinguishable and, to someone from the US or Europe, so are their accents. New Zealand and Australia are two fiercely independent modern nation states separated by a thousand miles of sea. Though viewing themselves as entirely different from their Australian cousins, most New Zealanders are unaware of the fact that until 1901 their country was in fact part of the state of NSW, Australia’s most populous state.

A difficult stretch of sea and an entrenched unwillingness of the peoples of Western Australia and New Zealand to agree on racial laws and policies meant that when push came to shove, New Zealand did not become part of the Australian Federation and became its own sovereign nation.

Camaraderie and fierce rivalry both characterise our relationship. Little known is ‘The Battle of the Wazzir’, four days in 1915 when the two countries’ armies were involved in a pitched fight with one another. The battle was in fact a four-day brawl that involved 2500 Australian and New Zealand troops en route to the bloody battlefields of Europe. It took place in the brothel district of Cairo. Four days on, four soldiers were found to have been injured and no winner was declared. The two armies sailed on to Europe where they fought together bravely and sustained enormously tragic losses. The famed ANZAC spirit was born. Today, the two countries’ rivalry is mostly played out on sports fields with the fiercely contested Bledisloe Cup rugby games an annual highlight. Many New Zealanders live in Australia, which has a population five times larger than New Zealand’s, and there are also a growing number of Australians now residing in New Zealand.

In terms of health systems, there are significant differences between the two countries as well as similarities. Both have health systems based on the British healthcare model, with general practices prominent and with governments playing a key role in funding and administering healthcare.

To read the full story, click here for the October 2014 issue of Pulse+IT Magazine.

Posted in New Zealand eHealth

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