What’s in a name?

Regular column by Scott Arrol, NZHIT CEO

The progress in creating an environment where the contribution from everyone in the sector is valued was on display at last week’s Digital Health Week NZ.

Following last week’s highly successful Digital Health Week NZ, I’m sure most of us are busy in catch-up mode and the inevitable pre-Christmas craziness that’s now in full swing.

There is no doubt that DHWNZ raised the bar even further on what was already one of the largest conferences of any type in New Zealand and definitely outstrips other digital health events on both sides of the Tasman.

When I reflect back on an intense five days, which started with the data summit on the Monday afternoon, there is one thing that struck me as the most significant change that has occurred over the past five years since I started in my role as CEO of NZHIT.

When I first arrived on the scene there was a distinct demarcation between ‘clinical’ and ‘industry’. It seemed that ‘vendors’ were only welcome as long as they exhibited and sponsored the conference but weren’t encouraged to engage beyond a certain point.  

To be fair, the clinician’s aversion to being subjected to the ‘hard sell’ was understandable at the time and it was clear to me that there was considerable work to be done when it came to building an environment where the valuable contribution needed from everyone in the sector was better understood.

Palpable partnership

Fast forward to last week in Hamilton and the sense of partnership, trusted relationships and sharing (and receiving) information was palpable. There has been a massive increase in maturity when it comes to understanding the important part that we all play in New Zealand’s health and disability system and that none of us can work in isolation to each other.

For me, one of the most pleasing indicators of this happening in action was hearing so many of our clinical colleagues referring to NZHIT members as “industry partners”. Even the Minister of Health David Clark used this term during his opening remarks.

It may seem a small thing, but moving our members away from operating in the vendor, transactional-based mindset has been a planned and concerted effort for the past five years. We have had to make a significant shift towards understanding the need to truly partner and collaborate (now moving to collabor-action).

Shared goal of better health outcomes

This is done in a way that industry partners first must make sure they fully understand their customers’ problems and set about coming up with jointly developed solutions that clearly flow all the way through to enabling better outcomes for patients and consumers of health services.

There are still a small number who cling steadfastly onto the vendor word and style of operating.  However, I have faith that the momentum has now swung enough that the successes being experienced by those embracing the industry partner approach has become the expected way of working in the sector.

There is certainly no doubt that clinicians, health managers and policymakers are valuing it, given I hardly heard any of them using the ‘v’ word last week!

HiNZ created safe environment for change

Enabling this change hasn’t only been one-sided, as the efforts of HiNZ CEO Kim Mundell and the HiNZ Board have been immense in creating a safe environment where all parts of the digital health sector can come together, accept their differences and get on with the job of transforming this country’s health and disability system.

I’m also a pragmatist and totally accept that there’s still much to be done, but there is now a much greater sense of optimism than was the case back in 2014. As we look towards the next five years my Christmas wish to Santa is that in 2024 we’ll look back and be very proud at what we’ve all achieved together.

Scott Arrol is the CEO of New Zealand Health NZHIT.

Originally posted eHealthNews.nz home page



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Anna Arrol

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