Supporting innovation in the health sector with the National Institute of Health Innovation
One of the base codes of Spark Health’s DNA is innovation. Its mission is to bring the future faster to the New Zealand health sector by leveraging the power of digital technologies. This is brought to life through fostering the country’s talented clinicians and technologists to implement their ideas for how healthcare should look in the future, while providing real outcomes for New Zealanders.
The Spark Health Whanau don’t just talk about their mission, they want to make a real difference by producing tangible results. That’s why they collaborated with the National Institute of Health Innovation (NIHI) and Amazon (AWS) to create the Spark Health Digital Innovations Programme, funding five digital innovation projects to the tune of $50,000 each across the NZ health sector. In addition to the funding, the Spark Health also provides mentoring and technology advice to the five projects.
Visit the National Institute of Health Innovation (NIHI) website to learn more about the Spark Health Digital Innovation Programme. You can also listen to a series of free webinars on the HiNZ website including an overview of each of the five successful projects.
In its first year, the awards focused fostering cloud based innovation projects. In 2020, projects with a focus on Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI) were invited to submit entries to boost activity in this space. The Health and Life Sciences Team at Amazon (AWS) is on had to provide specific advice to each of the projects on how to best leverage the AWS AI and Machine Learning Platform.
A key objective of the awards and the shortlisting and ultimate selection of recipients is to support research and development in areas that will provide real health outcomes.
“There has been an explosion in digital health innovation programmes in the last few years,” says Dr. Will Reedy, CEO of Spark Health. “But it is important to ensure the improved health outcomes that are attached to these projects are measured so that they can eventually, make a real difference in the lives of New Zealanders”
Chris Bullen from NIHI, explains the efforts to ensure the selection process was robust and ensured the focus on improved health outcomes. “This year we received a total of 34 applications that were assessed through two phases of judging. All were fantastic which made the process quite difficult”. A panel of New Zealand and international experts assessed each application against the criteria of technological innovation, significance to health, ability to implement and achieve as well as scientific rigour.
Finally, five projects were selected as recipients of the funding. NIHI also provides each project with advice on best practice approaches to measure improved health outcomes. NIHI will also write a report at the end of 2020 on the outcomes achieved for each of the five projects.
Spark Health are committed to support the Digital Innovation Programme for at least the next three years. The focus for 2021 will be Consumer Health and Wellness, as was voted for by attendees of this year’s webinar and a consumer representative will be added to the Spark Health Digital Innovation Programme for 2021.