Hira (National health information platform)

Better data, better access, better sharing, better health and wellbeing

A Ministry of Health team is working in partnership with consumers, the health and disability sector, and technology providers to deliver an ecosystem of data and digital services known as Hira.

Hira is a te reo Māori word that means ‘to have a significant bearing on future events’, and to have a ‘widespread effect’. The name speaks to the Hira promise of enabling better health outcomes for all New Zealanders.

Hira will enable a whole new way for a person’s health information to be accessed and updated. It will transform the way people interact with health services and use their health information.

Consumers will be able to access and control their health information through their choice of website or application using a digital device such as a smartphone, tablet or computer. Change and adoption is a significant focus for the programme and we will also consider what options exist for people who don’t have access to, or prefer not to use, technology.

Hira is a critical enabler of the Government’s upcoming reforms of the health and disability system. The scope for Hira will be continually reviewed as planning for the implementation of the reforms continues.

Better access to health information – anywhere, anytime

Hira will enable access to a virtual electronic health record by drawing together a person’s latest health data from trusted sources.

Hira is focused on:

  • Improving equity of access to health information and health services; to empower and support consumers and whānau to better manage their health and wellbeing; and improve the performance of the health system.
  • Providing access to data and digital services that make health information more accessible and interoperable, and result in better quality data for improved insights and decision-making.
  • Making it easy to use the data and digital services provided by Hira so that they are adopted widely in the sector and support greater system and market innovation.

When Hira is in place:

  • Consumers will have better access to and control over their health information including updating their own NHI details.
  • Providers will have secure, easy access to patient information, in the right context and at the right time.
  • Clinical decision-makers will have access to better data, which will improve safety and quality, performance, planning, system and service-level design and delivery.
  • Primary care and community-based services will be better able to plan for and respond to consumer need.
  • Vendors will have more opportunities to develop innovative health applications to support the ongoing transformation of the health and disability system.

Improving Māori health outcomes is a priority. Hira will target equity challenges and identify ways to address these. The principles of Māori data governance will be incorporated.

Why change is needed

  • Many of our health and disability information sources aren’t joined up, and there is variation in how data is collected and stored, and in its quality.
  • Data is not always accessible to help a person receive the best health care for their needs.
  • It is not easy for New Zealanders to access or control their own health information, or to share it with trusted family and whānau.

Consumers and whānau at the centre

  • Consumers and whānau must be at the centre of Hira, so it works effectively and equitably for them.
  • Along with the Department of Internal Affairs, we have worked with over 70 consumers and whānau, and health professionals to really understand the challenges.
  • We learnt that these four key features should be prioritised in the project:
    • Delegation and authorising access – the ability to view, update and share information with permitted whānau and family
    • Customisable content to increase choice and control, allowing people to share the parts of their story they believe are most important
    • Wrap-around services to support the introduction and buy-in of new technology for consumers and health practitioners and improve the end-to-end health care experience
    • Establishing meaningful relationships within communities that will foster trust in the health care system for consumers and whānau.

Hira tranche 1

In Budget 2021, Government announced funding of up to $385 million over four years for health sector digital infrastructure and capability. The drawdown of funding for the implementation of Hira is subject to Cabinet approval of business cases for the programme.

Tranche 1 will provide access for providers and consumers to important health information including demographics such as gender, ethnicity, name and date of birth; enrolled general practice; entitlements; medicines; vaccination status and laboratory test results. As part of tranche 1, consumers will have the ability to update information held in the national health index (NHI), such as their contact details. Work is underway to enable people to update data on their iwi affiliations.

Access to health information in tranche 1 will be enabled through multiple consumer and provider channels (websites and apps), focusing on those that improve equity of access to health information and empower consumers and whānau to better manage their health and wellbeing.

Tranche 1 will also deliver technology enablers such as digital identity and interoperability services.

Information for vendors

A number of vendors submitted responses to the Ministry of Health’s request for information (RFI) in relation to Hira. The responses were much appreciated and provided valuable insights, learnings and input which are helping inform thinking and planning for the next stages.

The detailed business case for Hira tranche 1 is currently under development. At this time, we are not able to advise a timeline for early engagement opportunities or market requests, but we will update vendors as soon as possible.

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