Purpose of the National Telehealth Service

The purpose and objectives of the National Telehealth Service are to:

  • be a trusted part of the health care system that offers confidential, reliable and consistent source of advice on health care in order to enable Consumers to manage their health care in an appropriate manner
  • facilitate the right person delivering the right care at the right time and at the right place
  • increase cost-effectiveness in the health care sector and reduce demand on other health services
  • have the flexibility to adapt and develop over time to meet the changing needs of users and technology.

 Value and impact through service integration

The National Telehealth Service (the Service) is an integrated platform bringing together a number of Ministry-funded health advice and support phone lines and other communication channels.

The Service aims to deliver the right care at the right time by the right person in the right place. It has the capability to ensure a seamless transition for people from one health advice service to another, providing a range of responses across the continuum of need, and linking them to appropriate clinical and referral pathways where required.

The Service has enabled a scalable clinical and technology platform to further develop innovative virtual health services – allowing flexibility in the way the platform can respond to the changing needs of New Zealanders and the health system, whilst maximising economies of scale to deliver value over time. New services and wider channel options may be added to increase access to support and information to best suit the needs of New Zealanders.

Funding and service partners

The Ministry of Health and Homecare Medical (New Zealand) Limited Partnership entered a ten-year agreement in September 2015 to provide the National Telehealth Service. Homecare Medical is owned by primary health organisations ProCare and Pegasus Health.

While the Ministry of Health is lead agency, the National Telehealth Service is supported by other funding partners: ACC, Health Promotion Agency, Ministry of Social Development and the Department of Corrections; all of which work together to deliver the outcomes expected of the Service. 

Underpinning the National Telehealth Service is a strong emphasis on collaboration between the funders and provider, together with a spirit of continuous improvement and innovation. 

Services included

The services are free of charge to users and available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. The range of services includes health advice, stop smoking support, alcohol and other drug counselling support, mental health, depression and anxiety support, gambling counselling support, poisons advice, immunisation advice, and secondary services to enhance capacity in emergency responses.

Read more about the telehealth services provided and contact details.

Integrated service model

The model of how the service intergrates with the wider health sector is pictured here or you can read a description.

See a larger version of this image. Note that a full text description of the image is available below.
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Telehealth Service Model

This diagram presents key requirements and our conceptual vision of the Service – how people would engage it and how the Service and the wider health sector would be integrated to provide seamless services and care to the public of New Zealand. Also included are some of the key requirements that potential providers will need to consider.

Users: anytime, anywhere, anyway

[Image shows people using different technologies, like cellphones, tablets and laptops, and in different situations.]


[This is the first layer of services around the user]

  • Healthline
  • Gambling helpline
  • Immunisation advice for the public
  • Alcohol and other drug helpline
  • Poisons advice for the public
  • Depression helpline, 1737 – need to talk?, the Lowdown text 5626, the Journal
  • Quitline
Health and disability sector

[This is the second layer of services around the user.]

  • Well Child
  • NGO
  • Tele GP
  • Injury prevention
  • ED self-refer
  • Emergency services
  • Pharmacist
  • Long term conditions education/counselling
Social sector

[This is the third layer of services around the user.]

Effective triage and referral

The service manages a variety of calls and ensures people find the experience simple and helpful.

Types of required service will change over time

New Zealanders' need for health services are ever evolving – so too are the services offered by the health system. The service will need to adapt and respond to emerging social and practical trends.

Designed with people in mind

  • Speak to a human
  • Seamless for the user
  • Easy access
  • Is part of a relationship with the health sector
  • Tell your story only once
  • Prompt advice and referral
  • Culturally appropriate
  • Maintains confidentiality

Data management

Data is accessible and owned by the Ministry of Health

  • Maintained to health information standards
  • Security
  • Longevity
  • Privacy

Marketing and promotion

Links to marketing activities

Key principles

The Service embraces six key principles. . These principles flow through to the objectives, outputs and outcomes to be achieved by the National Telehealth Service, as set out in the diagram below.

See a larger version of this image. Note that a full text description of the image is available below.

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The right thing to do is the easiest thing to do for users and providers

This diagram shows principles leading into objectives, objectives leading into outputs, and outputs leading into outcomes.


The overarching service principles are to:

  • deliver public trust and confidence in the service
  • assist in delivering appropriate care in the right setting by the right person at the right time
  • improve the quality of the service and user experience
  • provide increased use of self-care or care at home or in the community with the same or better outcomes
  • have access and use of a shared patient record that will be viewed and updated by those providing care or advice
  • provide prompt assistance with public health issues and natural disasters.


The service will:

  • provide consistent triage regardless of the location of the caller
  • be integrated with local and regional health and injury services
  • encourage and promote care delivered closer to home including self-management with family or carer support as appropriate
  • be innovative and flexible, able to adapt to changes in technology and public need
  • maintain patient privacy and confidentiality at all times
  • deliver on the strategic aims of each service component.


The service will deliver:

  • increased use of the national telehealth service over time
  • call answering, triage and referral, sign-posting to definitive care
  • linkages with clinical records
  • compliance with service specifications
  • service data/information:
    • personal information (number enrolled, awaiting follow-up, completing programme)
    • call summary information
    • call type breakdown
    • disposition breakdown
    • web usage
  • performance reporting:
    • satisfaction surveys
    • response rates, calls dropped.


The national telehealth service will:

  • contribute to meeting Government priorities including reduced emergency department attendances, as measured against baseline data and overall system impact
  • work with health partners to develop and improve local/regional patient care pathways and service delivery, with monitoring in place to measure impact
  • contribute to the ongoing development of an integrated health system
  • further outcomes will be jointly developed as the service develops and matures.


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