Digital decisions: software being trialled in health

Sunday Star Times, Sunday, 18 February 2007

By Rachel Grunwell

The health ministry has secretly been trialling Dr Paul Hansen and Franz Ombler's computer software to prioritize patients on some waiting lists.

Dr Ray Naden, a ministry clinical adviser, said the public had not been informed "because we wanted to test it first".

But he said the software was already helping some medical professionals make "really difficult judgements" on prioritizing who got treatment.

The software has been used in a six month trial on cardiac patients in Auckland and Wellington hospitals. Tauranga, Marlborough and Nelson surgeons had been prioritizing hip and knee replacement waiting lists with the software for a few months.

The College of Ophthalmology has recently accepted that it will trial the system on waiting lists for cataract patients.