The Ministry of Health is embarking on a project to rebuild the foundations of New Zealand's health system, scoping a new national platform to store and deliver patient data.
The system will join up what the ministry calls the "islands in the stream", where health providers each hold their own records and patient access is limited.
"In keeping with many countries around the world, New Zealand faces rising demand from health consumers, providers, researchers and innovators for systems that provide access in real-time to an individual’s health information," a project discovery document said.
"As citizens’ digital experience in all aspects of their lives improves, so too do expectations of highly functional joined-up health information."
Connected access to information across the health sector had the potential to improve equity and care and to enable transformed models of care by promoting collaboration and innovation.
The wide-ranging National Health Information Platform (nHIP) project has been on the cards since September 2019, but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Reliable, high quality and accessible health information is a key enabler of a high performing, trusted and sustainable health and disability sector," the document said.
"It enables New Zealanders to be more connected with their families, their communities, and the people and agencies that care for them in ways that are not possible with disconnected and incomplete information."
The nHIP’s focus is to ensure the right information is available to the right person at the right time, in a usable format, while the health consumer has control and visibility over who has accessed their data.
The aim is that by 2026, New Zealanders will be participating more effectively in their health and wellbeing, through easy and trusted access to, and use of, their health information.
Meanwhile, the health and disability sector will have more accurate and timely access to, and use of, health information to support decision making and service delivery and to accelerate innovation.
Digitally enabling the health and disability sector to shift demand to primary and community care, would also reduce growth in demand on acute services.
The system will be delivered in multiple tranches. The first covers core elements such as the data service, app- and web-based consumer services, provider services, consent services and developer engagement.
The nHIP will deliver a marketplace of application programming interfaces (APIs), and a developer portal that encourages and supports the innovative use of health information and the publishing of APIs by developers.
"We are interested in developer insights into how they want to consume or publish nHIP APIs, what certification and onboarding processes are required, and what are the supporting capabilities they would expect to be provided by the nHIP programme or the Ministry of Health," the document said.