The new network is being supported logistically and financially by Health Informatics New Zealand and its first meeting was held during the HiNZ 2018 conference in Wellington.

It now has more than 70 members from a range of health professions such as medicine, nursing, allied health, midwifery and pharmacy. It provides an online forum for members to share expertise and ideas as well as national networking events.

Network organiser and midwife Karen Blake is the regional manager for health informatics at shared services organisation healthAlliance.

She says, “there have been lots of failed IT projects in health and there’s enough evidence now to demonstrate that clinical leadership is absolutely fundamental to the success of these projects.

“Our IT solutions need to be clinically led to solve clinical problems, as it’s not about solving more and more IT problems.”

Similar networks have been set up in Australia and the UK, where NHS trusts routinely have a chief clinical information officer and there is a national CCIO for Health and Care.

Fellow network organiser and clinical director information services and virtual healthcare at Waikato DHB Ruth Large says in New Zealand there are a variety of ways that DHB information services use a clinical reference point, but there is no consistent clinical IT role in DHB leadership models.

“There has been a gap in terms of clinical leadership around the development of our digital technologies,” she says.

Large says CILN members do not need to have IT qualifications or a role involving informatics, but an interest in driving change, efficiency and good patient outcomes with technology.

She wants New Zealand to avoid the US experience where the wide implementation of electronic health records has seen many clinicians become disengaged: feeling they are entering patient data into computers to “feed the machine”, rather than for improved patient outcomes.

“We need a cohesive and supportive voice for clinical IT, otherwise we are just going to get the technologies we are given,” Large says.

CILN has a web page and is holding its next networking event on 20 May 2019 in Christchurch to coincide with the Emerging Tech in Health conference. Any clinician with an interest in informatics can register here.

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