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IBM comes to the aid of NZ healthcare providers

02 Sep 2013

IBM has implemented a new software platform for the New Zealand Ministry of Health to support the personalised health records for all patients throughout the country.

Known as the Health Identity Programme, the platform aims to improve the quality and availability of accessible health information for providers, such as District Hospital Boards (DHBs), General Practitioners (GPs) and pharmacists.

The company says this will improve patient safety and reduce back-office costs, while laying the foundation for future smarter healthcare initiatives such as sharing records between patient and providers, and improving care coordination.

For the past 20 years, healthcare providers have used a variety of custom-built health information systems and applications, making it difficult to share patient information across health providers and systems or keep data up-to-date and accurate.

IBM says the Health Identity Programme creates one unified system however, incorporating the National Health Index (NHI) and the Healthcare Provider Index to better ensure accuracy.

“The Health Identity Programme is a major, sector-wide project to upgrade key technology underpinning health care delivery," says Graeme Osborne, board director, National Health IT.

"This important infrastructure investment will enhance person-centred care, reduce the cost of maintaining a national identity service, and enable secure access to shared care records.”

The NHI assigns a unique number to every individual who receives health services in New Zealand ensuring their personal details are correctly associated with their patient record. The Ministry of Health estimates about 98% of the population has an NHI number.

The Healthcare Provider Index accurately identifies physicians, facilities and organisations involved in each patient’s care. This helps to ensure better coordination of care for the patient, linking every health care event for a patient, from doctor’s visits to prescription refills and treatment in a hospital.

“In the world of Big Data, accurate identification of each person receiving or providing healthcare services, as well as anyone accessing or using this information, is paramount for providing a smarter healthcare ecosystem," says Eran Horovitz, Solutions Architect, Software Group, IBM ANZ.

"The Health Identity Programme provides the strategic infrastructure necessary to deliver this functionality and supports the goals of the National Health IT Plan to transform healthcare delivery for New Zealanders."

The new system provides faster, more reliable 24-hour access to patient records for authorised users, including DHBs, private hospitals, GPs and pharmacies. The use of industry standard HL7 interfaces and web services will minimise duplication of records between different healthcare providers and offer greater flexibility for integration with other healthcare systems, a pre-requisite for future sharing of health records between patients and providers.

Eliminating duplicate records and creating a single, trusted source of patient data is required for future innovations such as local population analysis, planning and targeting of services, or mapping disease incidence and other trends by geography.

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