A new digital hospital in the works at New Zealand’s Dunedin city

The planning for the new hospital is taking into consideration the entire southern health system as a whole, with the goal of using technology to improve staff and patient experience.
By Rebecca McBeth
11:23 PM
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An artist's impression of a new Dunedin Hospital. Photo: New Dunedin Hospital

Dunedin, the second largest city in the South Island of New Zealand and the principal city of the Otago region, is currently making plans for a new digital hospital. The Southern District Health Board’s (DHB) Executive Director People, Culture & Technology, Mike Collins said that the new hospital will be largely paperless and will leverage technology to save time for both staff and patients.

Collins is responsible for the technology infrastructure for the new hospital, which will be built on the former Cadbury factory site, and says the focus is currently on the ambulatory care block. “We are trying to implement new technologies and solutions well before the hospital opens. From a change management perspective, I want staff to be comfortable working in that digital environment before the doors open,” he added.

His team is running workshops with clinicians and the community and taking a persona-based approach to designing the technology needed to enable better experiences for patients and staff. A key question asked when looking at patient journeys is whether the person really needs to go to hospital or whether they can be cared for closer to home.

This planning is not based solely around the DHB, but around the southern health system as a whole, and incorporates the region’s new Primary and Community Care Strategy. Dr John Adams, the new Chair of the Clinical Leadership Group – the senior clinical staff guiding the clinical direction of the New Dunedin Hospital, also emphasised the importance of an integrated approach to healthcare in the Southern region in an interview:

“It’s certainly clear to me that this is not just about building a physical hospital. It’s about building on the moves that have already been made around how the hospital works, and how it relates with primary care and the whole plan of health services in the region and the South Island. The New Dunedin Hospital is going to be a really important cog in the whole of the health services in the South Island. Part of the planning will be about how the clinicians continue to develop those exciting new ways of collaborative functioning, both internally and externally.”

The region has developed a digital strategy and is working with the Ministry of Health to identify key strategic goals, such as the implementation of interoperability standards.

The strategy plans for the next five to six years and is in line with the South Island Alliance’s regional strategy and the Ministry’s Digital Health Strategy, which is still in draft form.

A version of this article first appeared on eHealthNews.nz.