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Health Informatics in New Zealand

Clocktower.

XRay Machine The University of Otago has one of the world's leading Health Informatics Programmes, with collaborations across the University's three Schools of Medicine, Schools of Pharmacy, Dentistry and Physiotherapy, and Departments of Computer Science and Information Science.

This programme provides deep expertise in health informatics and is responsive to emerging needs. There are ongoing opportunities around data security, remote care and monitoring, and telemedicine. The University can undertake new research and provide access to existing research in these fields for commercial partners, and is able to access New Zealand Government funding for University partnerships with the private sector.

As a whole, New Zealand has an extremely high-uptake of health related ICT systems, with just under 100% of primary care providers in New Zealand on-line, largely due to the sophisticated national health IT infrastructure.

With an enduring nationally funded health-care system, government policy choices have contributed to strong results for both research and commercial entities. Patient data is centralised, allowing world-leading initiatives around cancer screening, smoking cessation and HEHA (Healthy Eating, Healthy Action), which work well in remote settings. New Zealand has standard advanced-economy chronic disease issues, with our Maori and Pacific Islander populations featuring heavily.

The University of Otago is dedicated to forming long-term relationships with organisations on applied and commercial research in health informatics, health-related ICT and medical education, and to assist in the guidance of early-stage IP to commercialisation.

For further information check out http://www.hein.otago.ac.nz.

Journal of Health Informatics in Developing Countries

Otago launches 'Journal of Health Informatics in Developing Countries'.

Knowledge on health and medical informatics in developing countries is scarce. This health informatics journal has been launched to focus on and promote research, experience and discussions related to health informatics in these countries. Authors from developing countries are particularly encouraged to contribute in this area.

The journal comprises articles, letters, and webcasts/podcasts. In line with the ethos of its publishers, the journal operates on a Free Publishing & Access Policy. Readers can view and download articles without any cost or registration.

The site is: http://www.jhidc.org/index.php/jhidc

ICT 2008

NZ-ICT-08-delegationThe Ministry of Research, Science and Technology helped ICT Business Manager Stuart Barson to travel to Lyon in late November with a New Zealand delegation to the EU's ICT 2008 conference. This is part of the Framework Programme (FP7) and is designed to help research institutions collaborate and network. New Zealand is able to be a full partner in FP7 projects, but it is a little trickier for us to receive EU funding – we must have research expertise that is necessary and unique.

Over 4,000 researchers, business people and government officials attended, including our little delegation from Otago, Waikato, Canterbury, the HITLab and the Geospatial Research Centre. We met an amazing number of very cool people; this is perhaps unsurprising as the FP7 funding is for collaboration rather than research itself. Normal service for New Zealand took place – no-one needed to be convinced that is a good place to visit. But what of Otago's research?

There was a lot of interest in health IT and those in the know were familiar with New Zealand's strengths in this area. The main EU focus seems to be on what they call ‘Health at Home' – using ICT to manage and monitor the chronically ill (and especially the elderly) at home. There was a lot of technology push rather than letting health gain drive the agenda, and little focus on prevention. Photonics and quantum computing were of interest and there should be some good connections made here. The multicore and parallel computing networking sessions had no great insights, rather reflecting the on-going difficulty of making headway with parallel programming.

So there's lots to follow up on and hopefully lots of collaboration to be done.

Further information about Health IT at Otago

Best Practice Advisory Centre:
The University is the major shareholder of the Best Practice Advisory Centre – a clinician led. BPAC's electronic clinical decision support system is web-based and integrated with the electronic medical record. Over 50% of New Zealand's primary care providers currently use it and it is being rolled out to the rest.
Download Best Practice Advisory Centre's Decision Support for Health Professionals (1.8Mb in PDF format)

New Zealand Pharmacovigilance Centre
Spontaneous monitoring of adverse reactions + intensive monitoring of new medicines
http://carm.otago.ac.nz/

Interactive Medical Education from the University
http://www.imedicine.org.nz/xix0819lxxv/index.html

Otago is a member of the New Zealand Health IT Cluster
http://www.healthit.org.nz/

Health IT policy and innovation in New Zealand
http://www.hisac.govt.nz/

Otago works closely with:
http://www.oceanbrowser.com
http://www.newmediamedicine.com

Download the Health Informatics Research Overview (80k in PDF format)