Takings from the Digital Health Leadership Summit

Takings from the Digital Health Leadership Summit1 Jun 2023

This week saw health leaders from across the motu come together in Wellington for a sold-out Digital Health Leadership Summit put on by Health Informatics New Zealand (HiNZ).

The hui-style summit included roundtable discussions on various subjects relating to Aotearoa’s digital health transformation. Approximately twenty table topics covered everything from Virtual Healthcare to Artificial Intelligence to Telehealth and The Customer Journey to Hospital Avoidance.

Book-ending each of the two days were guest speakers, including Health Minister Hon Dr Ayesha Verrall, Te Whatu Ora’s chief of data & digital Leigh Donoghue, Te Whatu Ora’s national chief of information security Sonny Taite, Te Aka Whai Ora’s GM of data & digital innovation Robyn Kamira, and the National Party’s Dr Shane Reti.

HiNZ CEO Tim Corbett also took to the plenary stage on day two to issue a call to transform thinking, enable people, and renew organisation culture.

Carolyn Stewart and Jenni Falconer (both attending on behalf of Emergency Consult) were impressed with the spirit of cooperation in the room. They came away buoyed by a sense of shared vision and willingness to transform the way the health sector uses tech. Representatives from both the government and the health community indicated that they want transformational change.

They saw a growing realisation that a diverse range of skills and tools is required to achieve the shared vision of digital reform. And that enabling leadership and good governance were key to success.

A few speakers touched on the fact that lofty traditional health reforms have often failed due to complexity. But suggested that small events and pathways can have huge and unpredictable consequences.

There was a realisation that ‘we’ [health leaders in NZ] need to build capability. It’s an iterative process; digital capability needs to be built, refined and continuously improved. But no one organisation is going to achieve meaningful system-wide change alone. Luckily, there is a desire to solve common problems – and share solutions!

All in attendance agreed that digital solutions for health need to be equitable, accessible and sustainable.

Data and digital is an enabler of service redesign. But change will only happen at the speed of trust.

In his closing remarks Te Whatu Ora’s chief of data & digital, Leigh Donoghue, said that the new reforms will be an exciting shift and called this a “once in a generation” opportunity.

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