Terms of reference for the Health Information Standards Organisation

May 2021

This document

Terms of reference for the Health Information Standards Organisation (HISO), a Ministry of Health committee.

Last revised May 2021.

Next review due by May 2022.

See also the Ministry’s rules and guidelines for establishing and supporting boards and committees.


HISO was established in June 2003 and continues today as kaitiaki (steward) and the governing body for health information standards in New Zealand.

HISO is a committee operating under the authority of the Ministry of Health and accountable to the Deputy Director-General of Health, Data and Digital.

HISO governs the selection, development and adoption of information and digital standards for the health and disability sector.

HISO’s overall purpose is to ensure that appropriate standards contribute to value and high performance in the health system to benefit the public through the best use of information and digital technology.

The standards lifecycle may include tracking, evaluating, selecting and adapting international standards, and commissioning new standards, for national use. Successful adoption is achieved when the published standards are used productively in widely implemented solutions.

To meet these objectives, HISO is responsible for ensuring that standards are:

  • aligned internationally and based on best practice evidence
  • consistent with the national strategic and architectural direction
  • introduced in consultation with the sector
  • promoting collaboration and innovation
  • published and proactively maintained
  • supported by implementation guides and tools
  • adopted widely and adding measurable value.

The Digital Health Strategic Framework establishes the importance of standards as a digital health ecosystem enabler, within the wider strategic context defined by:


HISO is a committee of up to ten members, including the chair.

Members are chosen to represent a range of stakeholder interests in order to govern the end-to-end standards process effectively.

Committee positions are openly advertised and typically drawn from:

  • Ministry of Health
  • District health boards
  • Primary health organisations
  • Health and social care providers
  • Accident Compensation Corporation
  • Standards development organisations 
  • Health software industry partners

The makeup of the committee at any time may vary depending on suitable candidates being available and the appointment process.

Members are expected to be influential in their respective organisations and communities and able to drive standards adoption.

Additional members may be co-opted to the committee as subject matter experts for a set purpose and term. These members are subject to the same rules and provisions as other members.


The Chief Standards Advisor, Data and Digital chairs HISO as an ex officio member.

The chair may select another member as vice chair to help plan and run meetings.


Members are appointed and may be reappointed for terms of up to two years at a time.

All appointments and reappointments are made by the Deputy Director-General, Data and Digital.

Nominations for positions on the committee are openly advertised when vacancies arise.

New appointees receive letters of appointment from the Deputy Director-General. Appointees are required to acknowledge their acceptance in writing, declaring any conflicts of interest and agreeing to meet their obligations under the terms of reference.

Members are always expected to exercise sound professional judgement and to act in good faith, impartially and with reasonable care to support the sector and the public interest.

At their discretion, the Deputy Director-General may remove a HISO member. The member will receive a letter stating the reason for the decision and the date of effect.

HISO members may tender their resignation at any time by writing to the chair.


HISO has monthly meetings that are either in-person or by videoconference. The chair may call additional meetings as necessary. Usual meeting protocols are followed.

A quorum is half the current membership including the chair. Meetings may continue without a quorum provided no decisions are sought.

HISO uses consensus decision making. The chair may call a simple majority vote on any unresolved issue.

Proceedings are documented, including the agenda, minutes and any papers presented. An executive summary of each meeting is produced to communicate key messages to the Deputy Director-General and other stakeholders.

Attendance, conflicts of interest, action and decision registers are maintained.

The chair is responsible for inviting guests to attend and present to the committee. Observers may also attend with the chair’s approval.

Technical working groups

HISO forms technical working groups to evaluate, develop and review standards and lead their implementation. This may be in partnership with the Health Sector Architects Group and with other groups and individuals as needed, depending on the subject matter.

HISO’s chair approves working group terms of reference and membership, and appoints the working group chair.

HISO uses open forums for engagement and consultation with the sector.


HISO maintains relationships with other national and international organisations in order to deliver standards for the sector.

The principal standards development organisations include:

  • World Health Organisation (WHO) and Australia’s National Centre for Classification in Health for ICD-10-AM and related standards
  • HL7 New Zealand for HL7 interoperability standards
  • SNOMED International for terminology standards
  • GS1 for supply chain standards
  • Regenstrief Institute for LOINC laboratory coding standards
  • Joint Initiative on Standards Development Organisation Global Health Informatics Standardisation for coordinated sets of standards.

Stakeholder government agencies and statutory bodies include:

  • Stats NZ as the lead government agency for data standards
  • Government Chief Digital Officer (GCDO) for the Government Enterprise Architecture and standards base
  • Standards New Zealand.

HISO engages with and seeks the views of key clinical, consumer and health provider service management stakeholder groups.

HISO may partner with relevant stakeholder groups as co-stewards of particular standards.

Work plan

HISO’s standards development and adoption priorities are agreed with the Deputy Director-General and tracked in a quarterly work plan.

The Deputy Director-General may direct the committee to advise on other matters as they arise.


Standards advisors in the Data and Digital directorate support HISO and its working groups, do research, provide advice, help to draft standards, support and monitor adoption and maintain the work plan.

Financial authority

The Ministry has financial authority over HISO. HISO has no power of its own to direct the work of health and disability sector organisations, employ staff, enter into contracts, make loans or commit expenditure.


The chair may declare certain documents or matters confidential. Members should not disclose any information declared confidential, except as required by law. Members are expected to publicly support any consensus decision or refrain from commenting on it.


HISO members are expected to act constructively and in good faith to resolve any dispute. The chair may bring in a mediator where a dispute cannot be resolved with best efforts.


No member is legally responsible or liable for any act or omission of the Ministry of Health.

No member can be held legally responsible or liable by the Ministry for any act or omission of their own provided the member has acted responsibly as required by these terms of reference.

Conflicts of interest

Members shall comply with the Ministry’s conflicts of interest rules and guidelines.

Members shall promptly declare to the chair any actual, potential or perceived conflict of interest in relation to a matter under consideration. The chair determines whether any conflicted member can continue to participate in discussions or voting on matters relating to the declared conflict.


The Ministry is responsible for preparing and publishing approved HISO standards and related documents.

Copyright over all HISO documents and other intellectual property is vested in the Crown, under the Ministry’s stewardship.

HISO documents are published under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International licence.

Fees and expenses

Fees paid to committee and working group members are determined in accordance with the Cabinet Fees Framework for members appointed to bodies in which the Crown has an interest. HISO and its working groups are classified among ‘Group 4: All other committees and other bodies’. Fees are paid for preparation, attendance and travel in relation to scheduled committee and working group meetings. Fees are not paid to salaried public servants.

Fees payable to members per meeting are:

  • a meeting attendance fee of $560 including GST for any meeting of between six and eight hours; for shorter meetings, a fee of $560/8 per hour
  • a meeting preparation fee of $280 including GST
  • a travel fee of $280 including GST for travel of more than three hours.

Fees are categorised as honoraria and as such are subject to withholding tax pursuant to Schedule 4 Part B of the Income Tax Act 2007 No 97.

The Ministry reimburses members for actual and reasonable expenses in attending HISO meetings. Accommodation and travel must be arranged by the Ministry. Members may submit a travel expense claim for costs such as parking. 

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