Telehealth Newsletter - December Update 2021

December 2021



NZ Telehealth Forum & Resource Centre - December Update

Tēnā koutou katoa


Recently I have been working my way through the wonderful book “Aroha” by Dr Hinemoa Elder. The very first whakatauki is “Tūwhitia te hopo” which can be translated as “Feel the fear and do it anyway”. Well we certainly have had 12 months of “feeling the fear” and I have repeated this whakatauki often over the past few months. I am not sure about the rest of you but I have had moments of feeling massively overwhelmed, at times even on the brink of exhaustion, but through all of that I have been buoyed by the support that I have received from all of you and many others in the health sector. 


As the NZ Telehealth Forum moves into its next decade of activity, we are in a remarkably good space and that is due to the mahi of all of you who continue to give and give despite the pressures of the environment. I should make special mention of our amazing programme manager who runs our organisation like a smooth machine and does amazing things for us, without Charis Frethey many of the things that we do would be simply impossible. Other shout outs go to the Mobile Health team Andrew Panckhurst and Davina Whitcher who beaver away, often quietly, in the background to support us as well as contributing their expertise. Our Ministry of Health colleagues in Data and Digital continue to support us for which we are very thankful. Finally our working group Chairs deserve a massive round of applause for all that they do in wrangling the best out of our members.


There is no doubt that COVID-19 has altered our environment forever, and although I am still looking forward to a haircut, I know that the bigger sacrifices we have made in the past 24 months have resulted in great outcomes for the people of Aotearoa. Thank you for all that you do, what you do matters and every action we take in this environment will ripple into the health sector. I feel very positive about 2022 and wish you a restorative Meri Kirihimete and Happy New Year. 


Ka kite anō
Dr Ruth Large


Digital Enablement Programme update

A number of exciting and innovative projects aimed at providing health care closer to home are underway throughout the country. Nineteen projects have received support from the Ministry of Health’s Digital Enablement Programme to help improve people’s access to general practice, and other community health services.


The Digital Enablement Programme supports the objectives of the health and disability system reforms. Data and digital technologies are key enablers for making health care more accessible, sustainable and resilient, improving health and wellbeing, and addressing inequities in health access and outcomes.


‘The primary and community care sector provides comprehensive care within the resources they have, but we see huge opportunities in supporting providers to modernise aspects of this care by using digital tools,’ says Data & Digital Deputy Director-General Shayne Hunter. ‘We are impressed by the enthusiasm and innovation we see in the sector; providers want to improve people’s access to health services, and are very willing to try different approaches, it’s a win-win for the person and the provider.’


(Pictured right: K’aute Pasifika and Pinnacle Ventures’ remote monitoring of blood glucose levels initiative is one of those receiving support from the Digital Enablement Programme. The initiative aims to improve self-management by Māori and Pacific people, and those living in rural areas. Here, Hamilton’s Keith Kana demonstrates applying a Dexcom sensor.)

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Telehealth learning modules

The NZ Telehealth Resource Centre has been supporting Healthcare Home National Collaborative to design and develop Telehealth Learning Modules. The objective of the learning modules is to allow clinicians to increase their confidence and capability in setting up and conducting effective culturally-appropriate telehealth consultations.

The content is sector agnostic and can be undertaken in palatable, interactive learning blocks as and when is suitable for the user. Modules will attract MOPs/CME points for modules completed.

The first module “What is Telehealth” has been completed with three more modules to be designed. The modules will be launched in 2022 and will integrate with the Ministry of Health online learning platform. 


Research project reveals positive attitudes towards telehealth, but it’s no magic bullet  

Moving to the COVID-19 Protection Framework (traffic light system) may bring about some normality within society but there’s no guarantee how long it will last. The good news for health professionals and patients is that health care delivery by telehealth can be as simple as a click of a button. The downside is that many people, many of whom live rurally, have different needs than their urban counterparts; rural communities are not created equal and their high health needs are not being considered in the development of telehealth systems as highlighted by a recent telehealth research project Rural Smart Health. 
Telehealth has existed for decades, but it only became more firmly embedded into the provision of healthcare during the first COVID-19 lockdown in New Zealand back in March 2020, when the use of digital technologies was encouraged for remote consultation using phone, video, email, text, patient portals etc, making it possible for clinicians to reach their patients all the while keeping themselves, their patients and others safe from COVID-19. Fast forward to today and the adoption of telehealth, for various reasons, has waned.  
The Rural Smart Health (RSH) project was a collaboration between Massey University, NZ Telehealth Leadership Group and Forum, Vensa Health and other commercial partners, and explored telehealth requirements for older adults living rurally in underserved populations. Although the project focussed on a specific population group, the intention is to expose findings which will inform the general population.
The project consisted of focus groups with older adults living in rural and semi-rural areas, where participants were divided into two groups (those who ‘had used’ and those who ‘had not used’ telehealth) and took part in semi-structured discussions and/or interviews. Results revealed that not only are rural communities’ needs not being met, but that for telehealth adoption to work, the rural communities themselves need to be involved in the design and implementation of telehealth solutions from the very beginning. The message ‘do it once, do it right’ has never been clearer – and would pave the way for successful telehealth implementation to provide access to heatlh services for whom the inequity gap is only growing. 

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Digital enablement powered by Spritely



Spritely was recently chosen to support two new digital enablement initiatives funded by New Zealand’s Ministry of Health. 

As the healthcare workforce comes under increasing pressure, and capacity at primary and secondary facilities is regularly tested, it’s imperative that the sector finds more efficient ways of delivering care. 


NZ’s Ministry of Health is supporting these efforts by establishing a digital enablement programme with the aim of increasing the availability and use of services such as telehealth. 


While telehealth can’t entirely replace in-person service delivery, there are some areas where it can make a real difference. One such area is the management of long-term conditions including hypertension, COPD, and diabetes. 


Research proves that telehealth can improve outcomes for people living with chronic conditions. The challenge is that these long-term conditions are most common in older people, and they are less likely to engage with telehealth than younger people.


Watch it now: Latest webinars 

The recording of the latest telehealth webinars are available on our website. We encourage you to share the video link with your networks.


2022 webinar

The next webinar What Does Telehealth Look Like in 2022 for Primary Care, will take place on Thursday 24 February 2022. More information will be available in the New Year.  


Stay up to date by liking and following our Facebook and LinkedIn pages. 


If you have any suggestions for topics and panellists, please email 


Patient Anywhere Specialist Elsewhere (PASE) update

Many of you will now be familiar with the term PASE: Patient Anywhere Specialist Elsewhere. This concept speaks to a cloud-based model of care where a hospital’s working parts are effectively lifted up off the brick and mortar and allow Tangata Whaiora/patients access to specialist care (be that allied health, nursing or medical) wherever they may be. The ability to have a national staffing and booking model alongside nationally available health records is the opportunity that we have been waiting for to establish this piece of work. We have presented this model at conference, at our own Forum and to members of the Transition Unit and the Interim Health NZ and Māori Health Board. We consistently hear positive things about this model and look forward to pressing forward with it and fleshing (and costing) it out in the coming months. The recent COVID-19 outbreak has slowed progress on this work unfortunately but it is never far from our minds and a top priority moving forward. 

National Telehealth Register

The National Telehealth Register was created to help share telehealth related policy, processes, resources and projects. While the register continues to grow, we need your input by registering all telehealth work and projects in New Zealand.


To submit your work, please complete the Registration Form

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Free NZ telehealth images

The telehealth Stock Photo Library contains images which can be used by health providers to support the provision of telehealth and other digitally-enabled health programs in NZ. 


If you need specific photos and you don't see them in the photo library, send us an email with details about what you are looking for to We will endeavour to try and capture these in an upcoming photo shoot. 

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Join the NZ Telehealth Forum - it's free!

The NZ Telehealth Forum includes a diverse range of people including clinicians, operations, management, and technology. Learn more about our work.


We are here to support, and encourage the increased use of telehealth, we would love for you to join us. 

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