NZ’s health IT sector on verge of a new era
November 2, 2016
New Zealand’s hospital and healthcare industry is on the verge of a digital breakthrough, New Zealand Health Information
and Technology (NZHIT) chief executive Scott Arrol says.
Hospitals, clinicians, specialists and private health providers are advancing rapidly into the digital world which is
beginning to change the way patients are being treated, Arrol says. He was speaking today at the NZHIT annual meeting in
“We have a fast growing, a strong and innovative health technology industry enabling the delivery of quality health and
social services that also provides the platform for international growth. NZHIT is the peak industry body for the health
IT sector representing a growing network of organisations and individuals that operate in the NZ health and social
“We have seen a 41 percent growth in our network with 120 members. Looking ahead we will continue grow as we experience
a considerable change in the sector that creates opportunities and risks for everyone. The NZ Health Strategy has set a
course of travel over the next 10 years that requires us to be partnering to develop and implement new technological
“The government spent $15.6 billion on health in the 2015-2016 year. That accounts for about 80 percent of all health
spending meaning as a country we spend close to $20 billion a year on health.
“Yet healthcare costs continue to increase due to new technologies and medicines. Global health spending per head is
expected to rise by 4.5 percent a year from 2014 to 2018. In this environment, healthcare providers are challenged to
find new ways to manage costs and efficiency without compromising service quality.
“Advances in technology are profoundly changing the way health is managed. While the adoption of technology has been
slowly improving health outcomes it is more recent emerging technologies that present the biggest opportunities. With
the decreasing cost of sensors, the increasing power of data analytics and advances in both robotics and genomics
healthcare is entering a technology revolution.
“Globally, hospitals have been slow to adopt robotics and artificial intelligence into patient care, although both have
been widely used and tested in other industries. Surgeons are already using robots in the operating theatre to assist
with surgery. Since 2000, more than two million operations worldwide have been performed by about 3000 surgical robots.”
Arrol was a healthcare manager for more than 16 years and involved in health service delivery. He understands what it
takes to position IT as a key enabler of models of care and health service delivery. He also believes New Zealand has
some of the leading exponents for developing IT solutions specifically for the health sector.
Arrol says New Zealand’s health IT sector has a huge opportunity to grow its international presence and build
significant export returns. He believes it’s time to move more exporters up the ladder.
“In its own right the health IT sector should be targeting at least $1 billion of exports over the coming five years,
that would then provide the platform for a further $1 billion-plus to be added through to 2026.
“None of this can be achieved unless we’ve a strong, local health IT industry that is enabling leading-edge health
services for New Zealanders, and can use these proof points to establish offshore success stories.”