Innovation reigns supreme in this year’s Clinicians’ Challenge

Media release

29 November 2017

Innovative digital solutions to improve health care have won this year’s Clinicians’ Challenge.

Ministry of Health Chief Technology & Digital Services Officer Ann-Marie Cavanagh was pleased to see clinicians continuing to push the boundaries of healthcare through innovative thinking.

“This year’s winners of the Clinicians’ Challenge bring new ideas to solve existing problems and improve productivity, resulting in enhanced healthcare delivery,” says Ms Cavanagh.

The Clinicians’ Challenge is a joint initiative by the Ministry of Health and Health Informatics New Zealand (HiNZ).

Jillian Boniface and Dr Leanne Liggett from the Southern District Health Board won the top prize in the new ideas category, for their initiative to build an online immunisation schedule catch-up calculator for New Zealand. (See below for more details.) There were 17 other entries in the category.

Associate Professor Amanda Oakley and her daughter Emily Oakley earned top marks in the active project/development category for their dermatological diagnosis website tool initiative. (See below for more details). There were 25 submissions in this category.

Both winners will receive $8,000 to continue developing their initiatives. The awards were presented during HiNZ conference in Rotorua.

The two runners-up who will each receive $2,000 are:

  • New ideas category: Dr Simon Thornley and his team at Auckland Regional Public Health Service for their electronic breath ketone sensor.
  • Active project/development category: Registered nurse Dion Howard from Capital & Coast DHB and his development team for a mental health professionals’ app.

“Winning this year’s Challenge is a significant achievement given the quality of entries received. The competition fosters creative thinking and encourages our frontline healthcare professionals to find ways to improve their situation using digital health solutions,” Ms Cavanagh said.

“It’s great to see clinicians finding better use of information and technology to deliver timely, quality patient care and improve productivity.”

The Clinicians’ Challenge is a joint initiative by the Ministry of Health and Health Informatics New Zealand.

The winners

The winners of the 2017 Clinicians' Challenge
Left to right: Active project/development category runner up Dion Howard; new idea category winners Jillian Boniface and Leanne Liggett; active project/development category winners Dr Amanda Oakley and Emily Oakley; new idea category runner up Simon Thornley.

Active project/development category winner: Dermatological diagnosis tool

Associate Professor Amanda Oakley and daughter Emily Oakley are looking to develop a website tool which could transform dermatological diagnosis. They are proposing to add a search-and-reference tool to the DermNet NZ website of which Amanda is founder and Emily the development manager.

The tool would receive images of skin conditions from clinicians, compare them to skin disease images in the site’s vast library and instantly return a summary of the diagnoses associated with similar images.

This would lead to quicker, easier and more accurate diagnosing of skin diseases which are very common worldwide (it’s estimated that one in six visits to a doctor are for skin complaints and many communities have very limited access to dermatologists).

The aim is to partner with technology companies that could train artificial intelligence software to recognise the most popular and dangerous skin diseases in images through pattern recognition.

The tool would be available to physicians and other healthcare providers, free or at very low cost, in remote and urban locations globally. Access would be via any device that has internet connection – desktop or mobile.

New idea category  winner: Online immunisation schedule catch-up calculator

Jillian Boniface and Dr Leanne Liggett from the Southern District Health Board are proposing to investigate the feasibility of building an online immunisation schedule catch-up calculator for New Zealand.

Where immigrant or refugee children have been vaccinated according to a different country’s schedule, a catch-up plan is required to bring these children in line with New Zealand’s national immunisation schedule.

The work involved is currently carried out manually by immunisation coordinators, before being passed back to practice nurses to complete the required immunisations.

An online immunisation calculator would simplify data collection, improve workflow efficiencies and support accurate clinical delivery in the shortest possible timeframe.

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