COVID-19: Orion Health to deliver national algorithm hub in New Zealand

The concept for the New Zealand Algorithm Hub was initially developed through the Precision Driven Health research partnership between Orion Health and partners.
By Dean Koh
12:01 AM

New Zealand-based healthcare software company Orion Health announced this week that it will deliver a free national solution to support scenario modelling, risk prediction, forecasting and planning throughout New Zealand’s COVID-19 response. The New Zealand Algorithm Hub has been accelerated to market through the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s COVID-19 Innovation Acceleration fund.

According to Orion Health, the hub will provide the infrastructure, tooling and resources necessary to support operational modelling and timely information dissemination to the New Zealand Government, healthcare organizations and professionals.

The company said it will work with local and international health, research and data science communities to identify, prioritize and deploy algorithms and models that are best suited to supporting New Zealand’s pandemic response.

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The concept for the New Zealand Algorithm Hub was initially developed through the Precision Driven Health research partnership between Orion Health and partners.

WHAT’S THE IMPACT

Currently, Orion Health is already supporting the National Crisis Management Centre (NCMC) by running the daily disease spread models and reporting on scenario results. However, these models are only available to be run by the immediate modelling team. 

The New Zealand Algorithm Hub will open up this modelling capability to a wider New Zealand audience, including the Ministry of Health, District Health Boards and other healthcare professionals.

THE LARGER PICTURE

New Zealand had an aggressive approach to eliminate COVID-19 cases and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced a strict national lockdown at the end of March when it only had 102 cases and zero deaths. According to an article by The Lancet, New Zealand's decision to pursue an elimination approach was a vastly different approach to usual pandemic planning, which has historically been based on a mitigation model and focuses on delaying the arrival of the virus, followed by a range of measures to flatten the curve of cases and deaths.

Although the country has a low number of 1153 confirmed cases and 21 deaths (as of 21 May), it is not resting on its laurels. This week, the Ministry of Health also launched the NZ COVID Tracer app, which is designed to support rather than replace existing contact tracing processes. The app will create a “digital diary” of the places that users visit through the scanning of QR codes displayed at the entrances to business premises, other organizations and public buildings.

ON THE RECORD

“We’re making it easy for organizations throughout New Zealand to access information and tooling that will support effective decision making,” said Genevieve Dawick, Product Director for the New Zealand Algorithm Hub.

Kevin Ross, Director of Research at Orion Health and CEO of Precision Driven Health, said, “The missing link in health data research is often the translation from research to practice; this solution will enable that for multiple parties.”

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