Telehealth newsletter - October 2021

Pictured above: DIGIFALE initiative in action

Innovative projects use digital technology to help people access health care September 2021

A number of primary and community care providers have received support from the Ministry of Health’s Digital Enablement Programme to help them improve people’s access to general practice, and other community health services.

The programme supports providers to test ways primary and community health care services can be accessed digitally – without people having to leave home, or their hometown. It gives people a choice about how they would like to receive health services, and gives providers options to provide more comprehensive care in a different way.

Projects supported by the programme include:

  • the remote monitoring of high blood pressure, blood glucose levels, cardiovascular disease and uric acid
  • using telehealth from home or providing local digital health hubs so people can digitally access services in bigger centres
  • providing culturally relevant information for people who are pregnant or have young babies
  • testing for health conditions
  • providing digital interpreter services
  • capacity planning and symptom collection for general practice
  • harnessing the digital skills of Pacific young people to help teach their elders, in a church setting
  • taking an artificial limb service to the community, using 3D scanning and printing
  • online enrolment in general practice
  • co designing to improve access to health and wellbeing services for island communities
  • using tablet computers to monitor the health of older people.

You can read more about each project on the Ministry of Health’s website.


 Patient Anywhere, Specialist Everywhere (PASE)

The PASE is a “passion project” for us in the NZTLG, something that we have been talking about for a while and at times has felt like tilting at windmills. We know that “virtual” hospitals are growing throughout the world and there has never been a better time to have this conversation in Aotearoa. With the improvements in technology capability and connectivity alongside the potential for national appointment booking capacity, a shared electronic record (Hira) and a national employer, we need to rethink how we deliver services. Currently patients are limited to services that are supplied in their region, thus if there is an absence of a child/adolescent psychiatrist, for example, or your only stroke physician is on leave, then getting access to these services is difficult. In addition, it can be difficult for some clinicians to take leave without adequate leave cover provided. Added to this, the ever increasing range of illness and treatment and sub-specialty development within nursing, allied health and medical fields means that generalists often need some back-up from specialist clinicians.

Whilst telehealth cannot and should not be a panacea for workforce shortage, it can enable some clinicians to continue to work where there are physical barriers as well as augmenting care to enable others to work at top of scope. It can also allow clinicians to practice in a remote setting that would otherwise be difficult to get to, or to live in an area they desire yet still deliver services elsewhere. It also enables shared care where, for example, clinicians such as specialist GPs can consult with inpatient specialists with the patient in the room. Other advantages include supporting nurse practitioners and rural outreach clinics, as well as rural and regional healthcare providers. 

With this in mind, the concept of “Patient Anywhere, Specialist Elsewhere" (PASE) has been developed where the “right care” can be provided at the “right time”. The concept relies on a national employer and rostering ability and can be imagined as a hospital in the cloud which is not reliant on bricks and mortar. We are hoping to host a webinar on this theme in the next few months and would encourage any of you with an interest in this piece to reach out to us to discuss how you can be involved in the development of the concept. Please contact us by emailing Charis Frethey, NZ Telehealth Leadership Group programme manager: