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Data and Digital: Reshaping New Zealand’s Healthcare Future

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Health Minister Dr Shane Reti highlights the pressing need for a transformative shift in New Zealand’s health sector, as revealed by the recent New Zealand Health Survey, emphasising the urgency for change given the alarming statistics:

The survey’s 2023 findings, unveiled by the Ministry of Health, indicate concerning trends, including increased barriers to accessing healthcare such as longer wait times for GP appointments and cost-related limitations, leading to a decline in health outcomes, particularly among children.

Dr Reti emphasises the importance of addressing key priorities for health reform, such as reducing emergency department stays, expediting cancer treatment, enhancing immunisation rates, and diminishing wait times for specialist assessments and surgeries. He stresses the pivotal role of empowering the health workforce to address these challenges effectively.

Highlighting the decline in health indicators over the past years, Dr Reti underscores the need for immediate action, attributing setbacks to prolonged waitlists, reduced immunisation rates, and longer delays in healthcare access.

Moreover, Dr Reti expresses deep concern about the impact of the cost-of-living crisis on health disparities, citing distressing statistics revealing food insufficiency in Māori and Pacific households, underscoring the need for government intervention to ensure equitable health outcomes for all New Zealanders.

Dr Reti reiterates his commitment to delivering improved health outcomes and stresses the urgency of governmental action to address these critical issues, striving for a healthcare system that prioritises accessibility and quality care for every New Zealander.

Dr Carr, Deputy Director of Public Health at the Ministry of Health | Manatū Hauora, highlights positive indicators in New Zealanders’ health but acknowledges ongoing efforts required to lead and oversee the health system effectively, ensuring universal access to quality healthcare.

“The annual New Zealand Health Survey results provide valuable information about the health and well-being of adults and children in New Zealand,” says Dr Harriette Carr. “The information collected supports the development of health services, policies and strategies, and helps the Ministry of Health and the wider sector to identify key issues and monitor trends.”

With the ongoing development of critical policies like the Government Policy Statement on Health 2024–2027, Budget 2024, and Te Pae Tata | The New Zealand Health Plan, these initiatives aim to shape the healthcare direction, leveraging insights from the New Zealand Health Survey to monitor advancements and cater to future healthcare needs comprehensively.

As technology continues to evolve, its integration into the healthcare landscape plays an increasingly vital role in revolutionising New Zealand’s healthcare system. Health technology, including telehealth services, advancements in artificial intelligence (AI), and tools empowering healthcare workers, emerges as a cornerstone in transforming healthcare delivery across the country.

OpenGov Asia reported that the integration of digital technology into New Zealand’s healthcare sector is experiencing a significant upswing. The nation is swiftly advancing toward a digital health landscape, propelled by the government’s unwavering commitment to infuse digital tools seamlessly into the healthcare service delivery system. Notably, there is a strategic emphasis on leveraging healthcare tech and infrastructure, underscoring New Zealand’s dedication to enhancing health services for its residents.

The Health System Reform roadmap recognises that data and digital have a crucial role in building fit-for-purpose national data and technology systems to improve the health and well-being of New Zealanders.  A clear understanding of the investment required to build that infrastructure and transition from what is currently in place is needed.


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