The health sector is a priority for rollout of Ultra Fast Broadband, with a policy goal for health facilities to have access by 2015. More than 90% of patient interactions occur in what’s known as the “primary” health sector – the doctors, nurses, pharmacists working in the community. Until recently, this sector has been held back by limited means of connection and collaboration. Like many countries New Zealand faces changing demographics, with an ageing population. Chronic long term conditions affect more New Zealanders than ever before, while the costs of medical treatment (drugs, hardware and software) are increasing.
In response to these and other challenges the Government instigated a new direction in health policy in 2009, known as “Better, Sooner, More Convenient”. The goals of this policy include more patient-centric services and systems, co-ordinated care closer to home, reduced demand on hospitals, and ensuring workforce supply meets demand. In concert with this policy, a new National Health IT Board was formed to provide strategic leadership on information systems across the Health sector. The Board’s vision is:
“To achieve high quality health care and improve patient safety, by 2014 New Zealanders will have a core set of personal health information available electronically to them and their treatment providers regardless of the setting as they access health services.”
Ultra-Fast Broadband will underpin implementation of the National Health IT plan and enable fulfillment of its vision, for example by improving access for primary providers, supporting common e-prescribing processes and a uniform approach to information sharing in general, as well as enabling remote access and cloud solutions for effective patient administration. In addition, Ultra-Fast Broadband will support applications which may include:
- access to patient electronic health records – securely stored and universally accessible to authorised clinicians or health workers;
- electronic transfer of advanced medical images (tele-radiology, tele-pathology etc.);
- tele-health technologies that allow patients to self-monitor their health in the home with appropriate clinical oversight;
- electronic prescriptions that securely attach to the patient’s health record and are accessible by a qualified pharmacist when needed;
- high definition video-conferencing for medical consultations, supervision and education, reducing costs and improving patient care in the home or GPs’ premises; and
- a range of interactions to support the continuum of care including eReferrals, eDischarges, ePrescribing and access to standard results information.
CFH is working with the Ministry of Health and the National Health IT Board to progress rollout of Ultra-Fast Broadband to the Health sector to deliver on these ambitious goals. Collaboration with the health sector is underway to identify where increased availability of Ultra-Fast Broadband is likely to provide the most benefit.
For more information (these links lead to material which is not part of the CFH site):