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. This is a key part of the Digital Health Strategic Framework and the role of the Ministry.
Technology innovation is an increasingly important part of health care delivery
The Ministry has identified a gap in technology innovation and research skills across the current health and disability workforce. This skill shortage has also been highlighted in the work undertaken by government in developing the New Zealand Health Research Strategy (NZHRS).
What does an innovation journey look like?
Identifying a problem that needs solving is often the first step in health innovation. Some problems will be investigated by New Zealand’s many research institutes and universities. This then may result in solutions that use new health technology or services, or which change current health practices.
There is limited capacity/capability within our health system for people and organisations to fully participate in the innovation journey. This can be seen in the diagram below where the health system pipeline is narrowed between identification of a problem and developing the right solution.
The Health Research Strategy has highlighted this among four strategic priorities for change, also shown in the diagram. These priorities are:
- Strategic Priority One - Invest in excellent health research that addresses the health needs of all New Zealanders
- Strategic Priority Two - Create a vibrant research environment in the health sector
- Strategic Priority Three - Build and strengthen pathways for translating research findings into policy and practice
- Strategic Priority Four - Advance innovative ideas and commercial opportunities.
Vision, primary objective and mechanism
The vision developed for the Health Technology Innovation Framework takes the form of a whakatauki.
Whāia te iti kahurangi kit e tūohu koe me he maunga teitei – Seek the treasure you value most dearly: if you bow your head, let it be to a lofty mountain.
This reminds us to set our sights high when considering what is possible.
The primary objective, described in the diagram below, is consistent with the Health Technology part of the Government’s Industry Policy (2019). The diagram also outlines the different activities supported under the categories of research, innovation and commercialisation.
What will success look like?
Build strong connections with our research partners who are working on solving the right problems.
Regional Incubation and Acceleration
Forming sustainable collaborations between DHBs, commercial and research partners, to start and align research and ideas to create new and better services and products, supporting skill development and innovative ideas.
- Building communities of interest in innovation
- Making the environment right for innovation
- Driving demand for innovation, not just supply.
Supporting emerging New Zealand health technology businesses when attempting to secure their first customers or preparing to sell overseas. Generating benefits for the health system for participating in commercialisation process by:
- focusing the research and development tax credit on the health sector
- establishing HealthTech Activator with Callaghan Innovation
- investing in infrastructure projects to build capacity for innovation
- supporting the New Zealand Health Innovation Hub (NZHIH)
- building an international “Bio-Bridge” to other markets.
Balancing our regulatory and procurement levers
Ensuring the Therapeutic Products Bill and PHARMAC, along with the system, are aligned with government policy to focus on collaboration and the opportunities that innovation can offer. For example:
- using our health system data and digital services to generate real world evidence (eg. Patient Reported Outcome Measures) to understand outcomes from health services
- ensuring legislation appropriately supports new solutions developed in New Zealand.
Building and leveraging our foundational health assets and strengths
Ensuring that our world class health data can support innovative new solutions and services and can measure real world evidence.
- Partnering with Maori to unlock the innovation potential of Maori knowledge, resources and people
- Building a data transparency and consent model to retain and grow social licence
- Implementing the national Health Information Platform (nHIP) – including capability.
Principles for undertaking health technology innovation in the health system
Feedback from the health and disability sector supports the Ministry providing certainty and direction to those undertaking health technology innovation These principles are described below and should be considered by all innovators.
- The Health System has a number of strategic priorities informed by the Health Research Strategy (2017), the Industry Policy (2019) and the Digital Health Strategic Framework (2019). These provide direction to innovators about the strategic direction of the public health system in the medium term (3-5 years):
- a. Innovation is (to be) shared and adopted across health organisations to improve sustainability of the system, reducing duplication.
- b. Innovation is (and will be) seen as a key method to improve equity and health outcomes for New Zealanders.
- c. nHIP is intended to provide opportunities for innovation.
- d. There is growing and ongoing investment for innovation.
- e. There is growing capability and capacity for innovation.
- f. New Zealanders and the New Zealand economy should benefit from the commercial value of innovation.
- g. Innovators should consider the participation and leadership of Maori in their approach to health technology innovation.
- h. Over the long term these investments should be sustainable and provide a return on investment.
- A Crown Entity such as a district health board or charitable organisation that receives public funds (eg, Vote Health) should use the commercialisation experience of the NZHIH if in the course of undertaking innovation there is a commercial opportunity to benefit New Zealanders.
- Health technology innovation should focus on the priorities of the health system and should align with the investment approach identified by the Health Research Council – referring specifically to the agreed Health Research Council Prioritisation Framework.
- Any insights from investments in health technology innovation should be made publicly available, and/or shared with the Ministry of Health which will make these available for use by others in the sector.
- Anyone seeking to develop innovation in the health sector should ensure that their innovation approach will include a service provider (such as a district health board) as an active partner in their work.