In his opening address, Canterbury DHB chief executive David Meates challenged the 230 attendees to think about delivering healthcare in 10 years’ time and how it will be different.
“How do we embrace and enable technology to help make it better for people?” he asked.
“We need to think about technology and what is its purpose? It’s to enable us as humans to have a better life. Technology itself is not the answer; it’s about how it supports us as people.”
He used the example of saving hours of driving time for families on the West Coast who can now get doctors’ appointments for their children via telehealth.
CDHB surgeon and e-clinical health lead Saxon Connor talked about how healthcare is moving towards shared decision making, with patients much more involved in decisions about their care.
While patient data is currently held by institutions, in the future people will hold their own data and decide who they want to share it with.
Connor said the traditional model of healthcare is unsustainable, with demand for care far outstripping the resources available to deliver it, and therefore “we have to change”.
“We need to get the IT people out of the backrooms and working on the frontlines with clinicians, and clinicians need to rethink things to optimise the patient experience,” he told the conference.
However, the CDHB clinical lead for informatics, Allied Health’s Rebecca George, stressed that the systems are not going to replace the need for human touch.
“It’s about using smart solutions to release the time for human touch,” she said.
Wigram Health director and doctor John Ko also talked about a future where empowered patients would make decisions for themselves, with doctors in advisory roles.
“Patients are going to make the decision that will be more convenient for them, so we need to be a leader and be ready for all these disruptive changes that are coming,” he told the conference.
The future of Artificial Intelligence was another major theme of the conference.
Ministry of Health chief technology and digital services officer Ann-Marie Cavanagh said AI “offers huge potential for scalability” and helping with the capacity shortfall in the health workforce.
New Zealand is ranked ninth among 35 OECD countries for government AI readiness and a identified “immense potential to save both lives and money” in the healthcare sector, which traditionally has a lot of data and reports high inefficiencies.
AI Forum executive director Ben Reid also presented at the conference, saying “AI should complement clinical roles, not overtake them”.
He called for more investment in AI to ensure New Zealand is in a position to take advantage of technological advances.
Emerging Tech in Health was organised by Health Informatics New Zealand and NZHIT (NZ Health IT)
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