16 Dec 2021

Go-ahead for $170m in funding will help people access their health data, Ministry says

4:41 pm on 16 December 2021

People will soon be able to check their health records on everything from medicines to vaccination status from their smartphone or computer, following government approval of a $170 million health technology package.

communications concept: girl using a digital generated smart phone. All screen graphics are made up.

People will also be able to nominate one of their whānau to access their health information, the Ministry of Health says. Photo: 123RF

The Ministry of Health's deputy director-general of health for data and digital Shayne Hunter said the Hira programme will bring together digital solutions and technologies that will transform the way people deal with health services and use their health information.

He said that currently information may need to be gathered from several different providers and systems, which can create delays in care and put patients at risk.

"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."

Hunter said this would ensure New Zealanders would be in control of their health information so they can better manage their health and wellbeing. Options for people who do not have a digital device or prefer not to use one were also being looked at, he said.

"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."

He said Hira would also allow people to nominate someone from their whānau to access their health information and would make it clear where the information is held and who is authorised to access it.

Delivery of the Hira programme will be split into three stages 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 $87m over three years to support the replacement of ageing technology and to address digital capability deficits.

It would work closely with district health boards to identify priority areas for the spending, Hunter said.

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