NZ health IT companies pitch across the ditch

New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) held a roadshow in three Australian capitals last month to showcase NZ's eHealth and health IT capabilities.

Hosted by Mike Rillstone, a Kiwi now based in Sydney who formerly headed up the NSW Department of Health's IT services division, the connected care showcase featured some of NZ's best software firms, including those with a large Australian footprint such as Orion Health and HealthLink as well as those that fly under the radar.

Mr Rillstone praised the quality of NZ's eHealth sector, saying its core ICT competency in software development was excellent. He also said NZ had three advantages over its larger cousin across the ditch.

“In New Zealand you have a very small country by comparison, but small can be an advantage, particularly when you are developing software in an innovative environment,” he said.

New Zealand also had the foresight to introduce its National Health Index (NHI) individual health identifier two decades ago, which has been an invaluable building block for the country's maturity as an eHealth-enabled nation.

And while it may not have seemed like it at the time, the many different attempts to efficiently fund healthcare over the years has led to a funding model that has now matured from an IT point of view, he said.

Participating companies included:

Atlantis Healthcare: The managing director of Atlantis Healthcare's Australian arm, Stephen Galt, explained how his company's behaviour change program can be used to track non-adherence to medication and treatment.

HealthLink: The secure messaging provider's national eHealth manager, Nikki Breslin, said HealthLink was used by 100 per cent of GPs in New Zealand and 90 per cent in Australia. HealthLink is used in the CareConnect eReferrals project in NZ, which links GPs and hospitals, and also offers the CareSelect referral service that allows GPs to search, find and refer patients to specialists. In Australia, HealthLink has integrated with the National Health Services Directory and is also being used by NSW Health to send discharge summaries to GPs as part of the HealtheNet project. HealthLink is also working with BreastScreen NSW and the Pap Test Register to enable results to be sent electronically to GP software.

HealthPoint: HealthPoint's John Williams described his company's Nexxt clinical decision support tool, which converts clinical pathways and presents them in a patient personalised form, integrated at the point of care for general practice to use. Nexxt is integrated with the two leading NZ general practice management systems – Medtech and MyPractice – and there are plans to integrate it with GP systems in Australia as well.

HSA Global: Business development manager Stuart Barson described how HSA Global's CCMS system is being used to enable advance care planning in Auckland, Canterbury and Singapore. Integrated advance care planning capability through CCMS will provide a single, shared plan that the patient, GP, aged care facility and emergency department can all access. CCMS is also being used by Counties-Manukau DHB for its at-risk individuals project, which aims to provide up to 30,000 people who are at risk of repeated hospitalisation with a CCMS-based care plan. Access to the care plan has recently been extended to pharmacies in the region.

Intrahealth: First established by Kiwi doctors in New Zealand but now with its biggest market in Canada, Intrahealth also has a thriving Australian business. Asia-Pacific general manager Craig Longstaff said the company concentrated on software for any non-inpatient setting, including community care, hospital in the home and general and specialist practice. Intrahealth recently won a contract to provide its software to Justice Health in Victoria, which handles the healthcare needs of inmates in the state's correctional facilities. It is also being used by Victoria's Barwon Health for its hospital in the home requirements and in some Headspace youth mental health centres.

Orion Health: Orion Health's sales director for NSW and Queensland Kelsey Grant outlined how the company's products were being used around the world, including in Northern Ireland, where its hospital information system is used in every facility, in Canada for Alberta Health Services' NetCare province-wide electronic health record and throughout Australia and New Zealand.

SHI Global: This company's innovative healthlnx product provides patients with an individualised and interactive time-lined care plan to be carried out at home. Technical director Rachel Vickery said it was being used by a number of Australian healthcare organisations to provide personalised pre and post-operative exercise plans, wound care programs and behaviour change and support with the aim of improving adherence and reducing costs.

Winscribe: Well known to Australian healthcare, Winscribe offers a range of options for medical transcription management, from traditional digital dictation to voice recognition software to medical documentation workflow management. While many hospitals still choose to do transcription internally, Winscribe's Scott Winstone said it was increasingly being completely outsourced to companies or used to clear backlogs. Speech recognition software has also changed the nature of medical transcription, in that typists are often now “correctionists” rather than transcribers, he said, and some doctors even do away with a typist and correct their own notes.

Posted in New Zealand eHealth

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