Light at the end of the tunnel for New Zealand Healthcare

Despite continuing austerity measures across the country, there is light beginning to appear at the end of the tunnel for New Zealand Healthcare. This includes a number of measures underway to expand capacity to reduce waiting times. It also includes some long-needed improvements to cybersecurity and privacy. This was the message I received during meetings this week with the New Zealand Ministry of Health in Wellington.

The Ministry of Health oversees some 20 District Health Boards each of which is responsible for administering the delivery of health services in their designated area. While some of the DHBs have pooled their resources for shared IT and security services, there are little to no common IT or security solutions across the entire country. Each board is free to do it's own thing we were informed. The result is disparate clinical and health information technologies across a sparsley populated country of just over 4.6m people.

Some areas of New Zealand appear to be better served by IT and IS capabilities than others, though common areas of concern appear to exist across all DHBs. These include the need for improved identity and access management, threat intelligence and security operations center expertise to identity and respond quickly to cyber attacks.

The greatest challenges however appear to be political in nature, in getting the DHBs to agree to common systems and processes or shared cybersecurity expertise for threat intelligence, security operations and incident response. While at the Ministry level this need seems to be recognised, the DHBs appear to be fiercely protecting their turf - at least for now!

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