There is a focus on increasing digital equity, so Māori, Pacific peoples, people with disabilities and those who traditionally have not engaged with health services have the same level of access to services as others. Consumer experience and health services that can be provided closer to home are a key element of this.
Since 2021, digital enablement funding and support for the development of innovative digital services and technologies has been made available to some providers following a procurement process. These include for:
- planned care (planned appointments or interventions in hospitals, community settings and GP practices)
- primary and community care (also called ‘the Team of 19’)
- planned care sustainability.
Planned care initiatives
Twenty-two planned care projects were funded across Te Whatu Ora districts. Six were selected to be developed nationally, and these are outlined below.
In-home telemonitoring programme
Te Whatu Ora Counties Manukau Health is working with vulnerable patients who have heart failure to design this programme. There are about 10,000 hospital admissions related to heart failure in New Zealand each year. Māori and Pacific peoples are almost twice as likely to be affected.
Telehealth as an alternative to in-person visits
Te Pae Hauora o Ruahine o Tararua is rolling out a programme to support the continued use of telehealth as an alternative to in-person consultations across the region. Aims include enabling people to have increased and equitable access to appropriate telehealth, and for telehealth technology to be available to all clinicians who require it.
Electronic shared care planning
Hauora a Toi Bay of Plenty is undertaking a project to provide access to an electronic shared care planning platform for consumers and providers in the region. The project will support the He Pou Oranga Tangata Whenua model of care by improving equitable access and timeliness of care.
Enterprise scheduling platform
Hauora a Toi Bay of Plenty is implementing an enterprise scheduling platform, to enable better management of outpatient appointments. The platform will build the foundation to move more easily to patient portals, kiosks and referral management. It aims to support the redesign of services so they are more equitable and consumer-centred.
Outpatient clinic scheduling and room-booking system
Te Whatu Ora Waitematā has introduced an outpatient clinic scheduling and room-booking system that will improve patient and staff experience, and access to planned care. The system will replace the current paper-based approach.
Telehealth monitoring for heart failure patients
This project was led by Counties Manukau’s Ko Awatea, focusing on the co-design of an in-home remote monitoring and treatment programme for Māori and Pacific heart failure patients.
While surveys of staff and patients found a preference for in-person interaction, people liked the access, time and cost-saving benefits of telehealth. The district is continuing to work with communities with a focus on cultural safety for Māori, internet connectively, digital literacy, and awareness of the telehealth service. The aim is to give patients a choice of telehealth or in-person visits
Primary and community care initiatives
Nineteen providers received support for initiatives to improve access to general practice, and other community health services.
Projects included the remote monitoring of high blood pressure, blood glucose levels, cardiovascular disease and uric acid; using telehealth from home or providing local digital health hubs so people can digitally access services in bigger centres; providing culturally relevant information for people who are pregnant or have young babies; testing for health conditions; providing digital interpreter services, capacity planning and symptom collection for general practice; online enrolment in general practice, co designing to improve access to health and wellbeing services for island communities; and using tablet computers to monitor the health of older people.
Planned care sustainability
Planned care sustainability initiatives focus on establishing innovative hospital inpatient and community services. They seek to improve equity by enabling access to health services through telehealth, improving digital literacy, and improving hospital workflow to reduce treatment wait times.
The telehealth benefits they are delivering include respiratory monitoring and early intervention, surgical care pathways, outpatient referrals with online booking and triage, ambulatory health events, automation of radiology eReferrals, and drone-facilitated pathology samples from remote locations.