Digital Health Strategic Framework

The Ministry of Health has developed a Digital Health Strategic Framework to guide the use of digital technologies and data to support a strong  and equitable public health and disability system.

A person-centred approach underpins this framework: this means the needs of people – health service consumers, health care professionals, managers, researchers and others – will fundamentally drive the design, development and implementation of digital capabilities.

The strategic framework is not a detailed plan, nor a document to sit on a bookshelf; rather it consists of aspirational goals and enabling priorities, guidelines and resources that will evolve over time in response to the changing digital world that New Zealanders live in. We will continually revise the framework as the digital future emerges.

On this page:

Digital health ecosystem

The term ‘digital health ecosystem’ describes the complex network of interactions between the individuals, organisations, technologies, information and resources that make up the health sector.  The ecosystem concept is the basis for understanding how we can best intervene and guide action in the health system.

The Digital Health Strategic Framework describes how digital services should be delivered within the digital health ecosystem. The intent of the framework is to create a digital environment and culture that incentivises the innovative and effective use of digital technologies and accessible data.

The framework does not take a directive approach to implementing digital health services but allows agencies to make good decisions that move the sector in the right direction at the right pace..  We incentivise the adoption of enablers and encourage organisations and individuals to act in a way that allows for collaboration, cooperation and innovation – and makes success highly visible.

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The Strategic Framework consists of:

  • Strategic objectives against which to measure progress over time.
  • Capabilities that support the creation and use of effective digital health services.
  • Enablers, which are the resources, frameworks and guidelines that create the cohesion we need to achieve our strategic objectives.
  • A Digital Environment that will enable or constrain the success of implementing the Strategic Framework.
  • Principles that underpin the actions of every participant in the digital health ecosystem.

The Ministry of Health will create and drive adoption of the necessary enablers and require all organisations to collaborate and co-invest, where possible, in digital health services that support the strategic objectives.

All agencies, including the Ministry of Health, will plan delivery of specific digital health services within their own strategic and operational plans. 

Digital and data objectives

Digital and data objectives are long-term aspirational goals that describe the impact this strategic framework will have on the sector.  The digital objectives support and are aligned to the strategic objectives, and government priorities, for the health and disability sector.

The strategic objectives are deliberately not time bound, as we cannot predict the future of the digital health ecosystem with any degree of certainty. They provide goals against which to measure progress rather than achievement: importantly, we expect that the Ministry and other health organisations will set their own specific (time-bound) objectives aligned to this framework.

Delivery principles

The principles provide the foundations for this strategic framework and its component parts. The component parts of the framework may change over time; the principles should not. These principles should underpin the actions of every participant in the digital health ecosystem.

The following are the principles of the Digital Health Strategic Framework

  • Person and whānau centred
  • Customer driven
  • Accessibile to all
  • Private and secure by design
  • Iterative delivery
  • Maximising value


Each organisation, including the Ministry, will formulate plans setting out the digital services and data capabilities they will invest in and deploy to move from a current state to a defined future state that is aligned to this strategic framework. This framework does not specify the digital services and data that an organisation should use; instead, it describes six capabilities that organisations should consider and apply to maximise the impact and success of digital services and data insights.  

Digital capabilities are disciplines and considerations that underpin and support the creation and use of effective digital services and data. Applying the capabilities will enable organisations to lift their digital maturity and maximise value from their investment.

The capabilities will help us deliver higher-quality, more effective, and more successful digital health services. The Ministry will consider an organisation’s ability to apply these capabilities to the delivery of a new digital health service when assessing proposals for investment.


Enablers are the resources, frameworks and guidelines that create the focus and cohesion we need to achieve our strategic objectives. The enablers are critical to the success of this strategic framework: without them, the implementation of this framework risks becoming fragmented and chaotic. While the framework adopts an ecosystem, rather than a directive, approach to implementing digital health services, compliance with the enablers is essential.

The Ministry will lead the creation of the enablers and drive their adoption, ensuring that participants in the health sector are making use of them effectively to ensure consistency and effective delivery of the capabilities.

The impact of the enablers will be significant. They will ensure that there is consistency of practice across the digital health ecosystem in key areas, and thereby ensure that organisations have the flexibility to respond to changing customer needs, changing technologies and changing government priorities while remaining aligned at a national level. Interoperability and secure access to trusted information will be inherent in all digital health services.

Digital environment

The Digital Environment is the broader New Zealand consumer and business environment that influences (enables or constrains) the success of implementing this framework. Failing to consider the digital environment can have a significant impact on the success of a digital health service; for example, implementing a technology enabler without understanding the relevant model of care changes, workforce capability and digital literacy required.

Participants in the digital health ecosystem need to consider the impact the digital environment has on delivery of the framework and seek to mitigate the impact of likely constraints. The digital environment will evolve over time, and should be influenced by the Ministry of Health and other participants within the digital health ecosystem to incentivise and encourage the positive use of digital health services.


Agencies will plan delivery of specific digital health services within their own strategic and operational plans.

This strategic framework does not specify particular digital health services – for example, an electronic referrals service – that will exist within the ecosystem; rather, every participant/agency will make informed decisions about the services they require. As each participant/agency is unique, the digital health services they use will differ and constantly change over time – for example, an integrated care workflow service may supersede an electronic referrals service.

The Ministry will encourage all participants within the digital health ecosystem to make informed decisions and create and implement digital health services independently with full awareness of the digital environment and the actions of others.

In implementing this strategic framework it is important to recognise that very few interventions within the digital health ecosystem happen in isolation. All agencies need to increase the visibility of their actions within the ecosystem, to provide opportunities for collaboration and leadership.  Agencies are expected to identify and exploit opportunities to avoid unnecessary duplication and waste through collaboration and reuse.

Framework outline

The image below shows a graphical outline of the framework.

Click image to enlarge

In this section

  • The Ministry of Health has developed a Health Technology Innovation Framework to provide direction to health technology innovators and guide the use of emerging health technologies in supporting a strong and equitable public health and disability system. Read more
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