Last October I blogged about a presentation I did with Jonathon Gray, Ron Pearson, Louise Zacest and David Galler at the Cloud during the Rugby World Cup. In front of an audience of leading business people, we talked about the potential for innovation in health in New Zealand and the Innovation Hub planned for CMDHB and our other foundation partners: Auckland DHB, Waitemata DHB and Canterbury DHB.
That Innovation Hub is now open for business and the opportunities I outlined last October are set to become reality. Supported by the Economic Development Group of the new Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, the Hub is a truly exciting venture with complementary economic and health objectives:
- To support our work to design the innovative solutions we need to address the healthcare challenges we face
- To help our experts assess, develop and realise their great ideas through to adoption in New Zealand and beyond, which will in turn generate shared income that can be reinvested into health
- To streamline industry access to clinical expertise which will help develop and validate new products and services
- To develop relationships with New Zealand and global firms who wish to work with the New Zealand public health sector
It’s important to point out that the Hub is not designed to duplicate the work of existing entities in the research and innovation space. Its focus is on streamlining the process and filling gaps in order to bring new products and services to the commercial market. With the health budget taking about 10% of the New Zealand economy it is, I think, very positive that district health boards are being seen not just as places that spend money in providing services but as places where value is created that can then underpin further economic development. The idea is hardly new – the education sector brings in over $1 billion a year in export earnings. And here at Middlemore Hospital, we’ve already played a huge role in assisting Fisher and Paykel Healthcare and Orion Health to develop products and services which have helped establish them as world-class companies in turn. Our Innovation Hub is a natural and positive progression which will help us create value and generate income to reinvest into the services we provide.
It’s still early days for the Hub but behind the scenes there’s a busy team of seconded DHB staff (including two from CMDHB) who are helping get it up and running. The Hub is now seeking a Clinical Advisor from each of the four partner DHBs and I’d encourage CMDHB clinicians who are interested in innovation to lodge their expression of interest in this role. The Hub is also busy recruiting innovation managers to support the DHBs. Other roles have already been filled, with Dr Murray Horn appointed as Chair and Sir Ray Avery as Deputy Chair. CMDHB’s Deputy CEO and Director of Corporate and Business Services, Ron Pearson, is acting as our representative on the establishment board.
The Hub staff are also busy learning how the Hub can best support you and are keen to identify clinicians and others who want to work on collaborative projects with industry. The Hub’s advisory service is now open and you can contact the team at any time via their website: www.innovation.health.nz. A formal launch for the Hub, along with the unveiling of full services and details will follow later this year.
On a different note, CMDHB staff will have seen the organisation-wide messages about the importance of protecting your patients and yourselves against the flu virus. As someone who has recently had a member of my family fall ill with this flu, I’d just like to add my support to this message. The flu this year is a really tough virus and I implore you to do all you can to protect our vulnerable patients, yourselves and your families. This includes staying at home if you have an influenza-like illness until your symptoms have resolved (although an ongoing post-viral cough may be expected) and maintaining good cough etiquette and hand hygiene when you return to work. It also means getting the flu vaccination which is currently being offered through Occupational Health and Safety Services (OHSS). Despite my hatred of needles, I’ve had it this year – I urge you to please take responsibility for your health and the health of those around you by doing the same.