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New Zealand sets budget to introduce new health information platform

New Zealand’s Ministry of Health recently unveiled its plan to invest up to NZ$400 million ($289.4 million) to implement health sector data and digital infrastructure over the next four years.

That includes NZ$385 million ($279 million) to implement Hira, the new national health information platform. Another NZ$15 million ($10.8 million) was allocated for capital funding in 2025-2026.

WHAT IT DOES

According to the Health Ministry’s website, Hira will provide a “whole new way” to access and update people’s health information.

Hira is planned to be rolled out through multiple consumer and provider channels, such as websites and apps.

In the first phase of the Hira rollout, the system will provide access for both providers and consumers to important health information, such as demographics, enrolled general practice, Community Service Card entitlements, prescribed and dispensed medicines, COVID-19 vaccination status and laboratory test results. Consumers will also be able to update their information, such as contact details, through the system.

WHY IT MATTERS

The Health Ministry said change is needed in the national health information platform as many health and disability information sources were not combined and there were variations in the quality of data and how data were collected and stored.

It also noted that data was not always accessible and it was difficult for citizens to access or control their own health information or to share it with their families. 

“Change and adoption is a significant focus for the programme and we will also consider what options exist for people who don’t have access to or prefer not to use technology,” it said.

Introducing Hira will then make health information “more accessible and interoperable and result in better quality data for improved insights and decision-making.”

“Consumers will have better access to their health information and can control who they share it with. Providers will have secure, easy access to patient information, in the right context and at the right time,” the Health Ministry said.

THE LARGER CONTEXT

Last week, the Health Ministry announced the NZ$24 billion ($17.36 billion) budget allocation for the health sector next year. Additional IT-focused health budget items include an investment of up to NZ$55.6 million ($40.1 million) to upgrade the IT system of the country’s breast cancer screening programme and NZ$53 million ($38.2 million) for HPV screening and its corresponding IT system. Also, the Health Ministry will be investing NZ$116.6 million ($84.4 million) until 2025 to transform its Health Sector Agreements and Payments system.

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