Many of you will know about the proposal for the three Auckland DHBs and Canterbury DHB to establish a national innovation hub thanks to funding from the Ministry of Economic Development. In Counties Manukau, it will enable us to do three things:

  • Allow the many very expert people in the organisation with great ideas to develop those in an environment which has a strong research and development culture
  • Allow us to begin designing solutions to some of the challenges we face. Can we, for example, design products to help improve our services?
  • Allow us to turn innovations and ideas into products that can earn money for both the inventor, the developer and the DHB, which can in turn be reinvested

I think the innovation hub will help CMDHB continue to be a vibrant place to work which will both attract new people and retain the great minds we already have onboard. We’ve already seen the huge role that CMDHB, particularly Middlemore, has played in assisting Fisher and Paykel Healthcare and Orion Health to become major international companies. Perhaps the innovation hub can create additional opportunities in South Auckland? Such opportunities could really benefit the local economy, create job opportunities and promote economic wellbeing, all of which are major contributors to the health status of our community.

Also, if we link the hub to our focus on sustainability, it could play a key role in developing a sustainable health system with a reduced carbon footprint which would add value to our work. Those of you who have read Hot, Flat and Crowded by leading economic thinker Thomas L Friedman will know that those countries that begin to develop innovative ways of combating climate change are the ones that enjoy a huge economic advantage in future.

On Tuesday myself, Jonathon Gray, Ron Pearson, Louise Zacest and David Galler got the opportunity to talk more about the innovation hub at The Cloud as guests of New Zealand Trade and Enterprise. The presentation was intended to showcase New Zealand industry to business people from international companies and leading New Zealand companies as part of the Rugby World Cup. At the event, I also had the huge pleasure to share a platform with John Kirwan who shared with us not just stories of his time as an All Black but also insights into the hugely courageous and influential stand he has made around depression and mental illness. It was an inspiring and thought-provoking meeting, and I was especially heartened to hear he hails from South Auckland. What a role model.

I’m always reminded that it’s not just the big picture stuff but also the contributions we all make each day that matter. Never more was this illustrated than in Betterby Atul Gawande, of whom I am a huge fan. He tells the story of a public health doctor in India who got to know his community so well, almost down to the individual family level, that he was able to ensure infectious diseases in his part of the world were significantly less than in similar communities elsewhere in India. He achieved this through real diligence, depth of knowledge and by focussing on the small stuff such as ensuring each family had access to clean drinking water. 

When I think about the objective we’ve set for Counties Manukau to eradicate rheumatic fever (which I discussed in my previous blog post), I’m reminded that we’re going to have to get down to that level of detail and familiarity with the people we serve in order to be successful. But we have already proven it to be possible. A couple of years ago, immunising 60% of two year olds was regarded as the best we could do. Over the last few years, through the great work of the immunisations team with individual families, we’ve managed to bring this up to over 90% for the first time. It’s a great example of what we can achieve when we apply innovation with focus and diligence. This is the key to our success.

Finally, no rugby commentary this week. It is all too tense and exciting, and I don’t want to bring any bad luck by speculating!



Author: Geraint Martin

Geraint Martin was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Counties Manukau DHB in December 2006. It is one of the largest District Health Boards in New Zealand and services a population of half a million. He has significant experience over 30 years in national policy & in managing both primary and secondary care . Previously, he was Director of Health and Social Care Strategy at the Welsh Government .He authored a radical 10 year strategy of reform, including the successful “Saving 1000 lives” Campaign.Until 2004, he was CEO at Kettering General Hospital & had held senior positions in London & Birmingham.He has worked closely with clinicians in improving clinical standards,patient safety,chronic disease management & managing acute care to reduce hospital demand.In NZ, He has promoted clinical quality and leadership as central to improving patientcare. This has led to a significant increases in productivity and access, whilst maintaining financial balance. CMH has completed in 2014 a $500 m capital redevelopment programme, the largest in New Zealand. A central part of this is the establishment of Ko Awatea,the Centre for Innovation and Research which will underpin CMH as one of the the leading health systems in Australasia.In 2008, he chaired the Ministerial Review of Emergency Care in New Zealand, and in 2013 was an member of the Expert Advisory Panel on Health Sector Performance. Geraint has an MSc in Health Policy from Birmingham University .His post-graduate work has focused on health economics and Corporate Strategy . He is adjunct Professor of Healthcare Management at AUT and Victoria University, Wellington Elected in 2006 as a Companion of the Institute of Healthcare Management, previously he was an Associate Fellow at Birmingham University.He is is Chair of the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, a member of the Institute of Directors, on the Board of the NZ Institute of Health Management & previously the Board of The NZ Health Quality and Safety Commission.

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