New Zealand Health Innovation Award 2006
by Stacey Day
Deciding who gets publicly-funded heart surgery is difficult but the use of world-class internet based software is providing a fairer system for patients.
Prioritizing patients through waiting lists or a booking system is a challenge faced by all health services internationally.
New Zealand has developed a points system that includes criteria for prioritizing access to elective services. This provides a standardized decision-making system.
Criteria for prioritizing access to coronary artery bypass surgery were drafted by cardiologists and cardiac surgeons and then pre-tested and refined using the Point Wizard [1000minds] software.
Clinicians’ preferences with respect to acceptable trade-offs between the criteria were then incorporated in the points system.
The initiative is a collaboration between Point Wizard [1000minds], a developer of software for decision-making and prioritization, the New Zealand region of the Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand and the Ministry of Health’s elective services prioritization team.
The software has shown there is a wide variety in the decisions made by individual doctors. The new system ensures fairness to patients by improving consistency and reliability.
Work on new or revised points systems for hip and knee replacements, vascular surgery, genaecological and infertility treatments is well underway.
The goal is to develop fully integrated prioritization processes supported by information technology.
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