Working Together to Face New Challenges

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To say 2020 disrupted many health organisation’s strategic digital plans is an understatement.

Teams have been redirected to facilitate remote working, budgets have been repurposed, organisations and technology teams have had to adapt to different ways of working and everyone has had to work through the significant uncertainty of how the situation would evolve.

One of the great things about being in the Spark Health Whanau and working across the large customer base within the health sector is getting a holistic view of what is going on in this digital world.

What we have observed across the sector, is an amazing response from vendors and health sector teams alike, working together to implement some incredible technology changes in incredibly short time frames.  Health sector technology teams worked with vendors in the background to add or scale up capabilities in response to COVID-19—on top of their usual workload— to maintain the systems and services that support the public, clinicians and agencies across the country. Going in to 2021 I think it is worth reflecting on the incredible job done across the sector in an incredibly difficult year.

Not to say 2021 will be a lot easier, but more and more health sector teams are now able to look upward and onward and increasingly focus on their longer term plans and progress work that was disrupted earlier in 2020.

Common Challenges & Competing Priorities

There are a number of common themes and drivers across the sector with a lot of focus being placed on risk mitigation which provides a bit of friction against some of the broader work to digitise health systems and information. Some of these common themes include:

  • Risk mitigation work relating to the end of extended support in 2020 for a number of common technologies.
  • Continued transition of traditional productivity tools into Office 365, Exchange online, OneDrive and SharePoint online.
  • Many organisations either progressing or initiating their journey to hybrid and public cloud environments. This includes organisations looking for guidance or review relating to current cloud deployments.
  • Increased activity around security services including protection, monitoring and response that can span all aspects of their hybrid cloud environment.
  • More thinking relating to greater vendor partnering, platform or full software services with an outcomes focus.
  • and of course the never ending work to maintain the life cycle of clinical and business systems while containing the cost of operating these.

The list above looks very ‘business as usual’, and the sector is under pressure to maintain and operate their environments while being challenged to gain significant traction with digitising and integrating them. During 2020 we have seen some great advancements in pockets to digitise services, leverage data and provide innovation. The hope for 2021 is these types of activities will get increasingly more of the sectors attention, and of course funding.

What’s Next?

As we move into 2021, the Spark Health team are looking ahead to how we can support the sector to do the things it needs and wants to do.  In addition to things like the Spark Health Digital Innovations Programme we are looking to products and services that help to deal with the challenges listed above, with a specific focus on health. We have also worked with Leaven, our public cloud consultancy to put together some helpful health focused blueprints for New Zealand health organisations that are starting out or fortifying their journey to public or hybrid cloud.

In addition, we have some great news coming for health organisations struggling with their existing integration platforms or wanting to get some real traction on their journey to being more API and data driven.

So as the first month of 2021 closes,  kudos to all the hard working digital health professionals for their efforts during 2020 and hope 2021 brings increased opportunity to move New Zealand forward in its digital health journey and toward better health care for all New Zealanders.

Colin Tarrant
Spark Health Solutions Director

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