Using Technology to Improve Patient Care

The focus of Health Informatics New Zealand (HINZ) – a national not-for profit organization is to help improve businesses processes and patient care.

HINZ’s 11th  annual  conference in Rotorua in November was attended by more than 300 people from New Zealand and overseas. Unfortunately, nurses were in the minority . The concurrent sessions included :electronic health records, innovations, organizations, telehealth and shared care. Twp particularly useful presentations included on from the national health IT Board, laying out expectations for the next two years, including having all GPs offering a patient portal to their patients by the end of 2014. This would allow patients to make online contact with their medical centre, access their lab results, make appointments and manage their own care. The second one was by Privacy Commissioner, Marie Schroff, who emphasized the need for complete privacy and security when using electronic health records. She used the example of one government department where the personal details of 7000 New Zealanders were made public by one incorrect push of a button.

The Clinician’s Challenge, which is based on a health professional submitting a problem which they believe could be assisted by technology, attracted 55 entries. Submissions this year came from doctors, nurses and speech therapists. The winner was Dr. Jo Scott-Jones, a GP, whose challenge was entitled “Improving the effective delivery of health care in a rural environment” and was about using technology to assist with standing orders.

The nurse presenters this year included Chris Hendry, from Nurse Maude in Christchurch, Michelle Honey and Karen Day from University of Auckland and Robyn Carr, who runs her own telehealth consultancy.

Nurses are by far the largest workforce and will be the health professionals most likely to use the technology. However, to do this, they must have the knowledge and skills to add to the discussion. Attendance at conferences such as HINZ is vital for professional development. For further information please go to: www.hinz.org.nz

Prepared for Kai Tiaki December 2012/ January 2013

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