Dollars, not just words, needed in digital health space

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Dollars, not just words, needed in digital health space

Media release from the Digital Health Association (DHA)
1 minute to Read
Unfiltered 2021

Ensuring the health system has the necessary ‘digital and physical infrastructure’ requires more than just words, according to the Digital Health Association (DHA). Adequate and ongoing funding is essential to building a robust and state-of-the art digital technology ecosystem.

Ryl Jensen, chief executive of the DHA, acknowledges that the Government Policy Statement (GPS) on Health emphasises the need for digital initiatives and solutions.

“At face value, the GPS is encouraging due to its focus on digital health,” Jensen says.

However, she points out that Budget 2024 cut Health New Zealand | Te Whatu Ora’s funding for digital health initiatives by approximately $330 million.

“While we look forward to seeing the digital health commitments in the GPS translated into definitive actions within the New Zealand Health Plan and 10-year investment plan, there seems to be a disconnect between the GPS and the Budget funding decisions,” Jensen notes. “At this point, it’s difficult to reconcile the two.”

Jensen stresses the urgent need for significant investment in digital health technologies to not slow recent momentum in this space; she is unapologetic about making this point.

“Digital initiatives have the potential to transform New Zealand’s ailing health system, ensuring it is not only resilient but also future-proofed to meet the needs of an aging and growing population with increasingly complex health needs,” she says. “We can’t continue operating our health system as we have been. It’s simply not sustainable.”

She highlights the frequent media stories about workforce, system, and infrastructure deficiencies that impact equity and quality of care. “Real people suffer due to these deficiencies,” she emphasises.
Despite New Zealand’s lag in digital health investment, Jensen is hopeful that the GPS signals a change.

“For decades, digital health has been underfunded, and our ecosystem reflects this shortfall. It’s time to commit to reinstating the proper funding so we can make real advancements for the benefit of New Zealanders,” she says.

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