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$170 million to improve health and disability system in New Zealand

wheelchair user - motion blur

The first tranche of the Hira programme underway is now underway following Government approval to invest up to $170 million over three years.

The Ministry’s Deputy Director-General of Health for Data and Digital Shayne Hunter says Hira will bring together digital solutions and technologies that will transform the way people interact with health services and use their health information.

“Currently, health information often needs to be collated from a range of different providers and systems, which can create delays in care and put patients at risk,” says Shayne Hunter.

“Hira will allow New Zealanders and their chosen health providers to use their smartphone, tablet or computer to securely access a range of important health information through a virtual electronic health record.

“In the first instance this will include basic patient information, enrolled general practice, entitlements, medicines, COVID-19 vaccination status and test results, and summary primary care data.

“The initial focus is on putting New Zealanders in control of their health information so they can better manage their health and wellbeing. This includes looking at options for people who don’t have a digital device or prefer not to use one.

“Hira will also enable better clinical decision-making and allow services to be targeted in a way that improves equity for Māori, Pacific peoples and vulnerable populations.

“Over time, Hira will give New Zealanders and their trusted providers access to an even broader range of data such as information about allergies, adverse reactions, shared care plans, and wider immunisation information and laboratory results.

“New Zealanders will also be empowered to involve trusted whānau in their care, by delegating access to their health and wellbeing information, and will be able to see where health information is held about them and who is authorised to access this information.

“At the same time, Hira will make it easier for IT vendors and other innovators to design new data and digital services for their customers. This will be a catalyst for establishing new, digitally enabled models of care that will allow health and wider social services to be delivered in a joined-up way and will see in-person visits increasingly supplemented with telehealth and digital therapeutics; all of which can be tailored to meet the needs of individuals and whānau.

“The Ministry has worked with people and providers across the country to identify and prioritise Hira services, and we will continue to partner with our stakeholders to test Hira ideas and concepts to ensure Hira works well for everyone.”

Hira services and functionality will be delivered progressively through regular releases across three tranches of work through to the end of 2026.

“We’ve already built a solid platform for Hira through our work to implement key initiatives such as My Health Account and My Covid Record. By the end of tranche one in around mid-2024, we will have put in place many of the elements of Hira needed to lay the foundations for a digitally enabled health and disability system.”

In addition to the Hira programme, the Ministry has Government approval to invest a further $87 million over three years to support the replacement of aging technology and to address digital capability deficits.

“The Ministry has worked with DHBs to identify priority areas where investment is needed to support the health and disability system reforms and address historic underinvestment. Each of these priority areas align with the needs of DHBs and primary and community service providers, and includes a focus on technology, process optimisation, improved workforce capability and capacity, digital literacy and skills.”

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