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Digital health – Informatics for population health gain and equity

Te hauora matihiko: Te mātai mōhiohio mō te whakapiki hauora taupori me te whakaōritenga

Update: This course is now full. If you would like to go on a waitlist, please email

Monday 25 February 2019

This course provides an introduction to the evolving digital health world that is increasingly essential to the achievement of population health gain and healthy equity. Public Health Informatics has been defined as the systematic application of information and computer science and technology to public health practice, research, and learning. This one-day course provides an introduction to this continuously developing field along with the broader application of digital health to population health gain and health equity.

By the end of the day participants will have an understanding of the building blocks of current information systems and their application in digital health. Participants will be equipped with sufficient knowledge to successfully work with digital health and information systems experts to identify digital health priorities, define high level system requirements and to ensure digital health investment and development aligns with Population Health and Equity objectives.

The course is not designed to make you an expert in informatics. Rather you will have an understanding of potential opportunities and limits of current technologies, methods for effectively introducing innovative technologies and an approach to help you ensure that digital health investments are focused on achieving population health objectives.

Information system professionals may also benefit from understanding the opportunities to work more effectively with Population Health.

Topics covered

  • Modern data structures and the basics of application design at an overview level
  • Informatics building blocks - data standards, vocabularies and ontology, networks, messaging and software services and their importance for digital health
  • Requirements development, user-centred design and business process analysis
  • Electronic health records and health portals
  • Privacy and information security
  • NZ public and population health data and information systems
  • Basics of information systems project management
  • Mobile, wearable and other smart device health applications
  • The role of social media
  • NZ digital health strategy

Course structure

The course will begin with an overview of the fields of digital health and informatics and their relevance to Public and Population Health. More detailed discussion of key building blocks of modern information systems and networks will then lead into a session that introduces students to public and population health systems and digital health initiatives in Aotearoa - New Zealand.

The course will incorporate exercises designed to show participants how to contribute effectively to the evaluation of information requirements and the development of digital health services and systems. Participants will be introduced to methods for testing innovative approaches to digital health and ensuring implementing successful approaches to ensure digital health is contributing to strategic population health objectives and priorities.

Who should attend?

The course is designed primarily for Population Health decision makers and leaders interested in using information science and technology more effectively, including:

  • People in Population Health leadership positions (including those in Primary Health Organizations) wishing to support and guide technical staff and contractors
  • Public and Population Health analysts involved in developing information infrastructure to support services
  • Maori and Pacific Health leaders wanting to make sure their organizations are making the best use of Digital Health
  • Academics and researchers interested in using data generated by public health and health service systems for research.

The course will also provide a useful introduction for information systems professionals interested in opportunities to use their skills in the areas of public and population health.

Draft timetable - TBC

Teaching staff

  • Dr Robyn Whittaker is a Public Health Physician currently leading the innovation stream within a newly established Institute for Innovation and Improvement at Waitemata District Health Board. Robyn is also an Associate Professor at the National Institute for Health Innovation, University of Auckland, where she co-leads the Health Informatics and Technology research team. Her research interests are in mHealth (mobile health) – particularly designing and trialling interventions to be delivered to people via their mobile phones. These include health behaviour change interventions, such as TextMATCH health information for pregnant women and families with young children to encourage healthy diet and physical activity, and self-management programmes for long term conditions, such as SMS4BG self-management support for people with poorly controlled diabetes.
  • Dr Nicholas (Nick) Jones is a Medical Officer of Health and Public Health Physician at the Hawke’s Bay District Health Board. Nick is currently Clinical Director for the recently established Health Improvement and Equity Directorate which is responsible for driving Population Health Improvement and the elimination of Health Inequity in Hawke’s Bay. Nick was the first person from Australasia to complete the two year Fellowship in Public Health Informatics at the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta in 2007.
  • Chris Ambrose is an information systems development specialist with Community and Public Health, the Population and Public Health division of the Canterbury DHB. He has been responsible for the development of the Healthscape system, which supports population and public health operational needs in Canterbury and other DHBs.

Course cost and registration

$300 early bird, $400 after 20 December 2018.

A 50% discount is available to full-time students, those unwaged and University of Otago staff.