Transforming a health system to be future-fit

  • Opinion

    28 October 2022

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New Zealand has a high-quality publicly funded health system and a highly skilled, dedicated and professional health workforce. But there are opportunities to transform the current system to ensure it better supports New Zealanders.

In July 2022 New Zealand’s health system was fundamentally reformed, with the then-existing 20 district health boards being disestablished and their functions merged into a single national agency tasked with:

  • leading the day-to-day running of the system for the whole country,
  • managing all health services including hospital and specialist services, primary and community care
  • undertaking the operational functions such as managing national contracts.

This significant change means hospital and specialist services (including infrastructure planning and prioritisation) will now be planned nationally and delivered more consistently across the country.

Part of the stated rationale for the reform is to address the significant historic underinvestment in health infrastructure. Whilst transitional plans are in place, substantial work is now underway to plan the operating models to support the reformed system, including for infrastructure delivery and investment, and for data and digital.

There are also numerous opportunities in New Zealand and Australia’s pharma and medical device sectors.

New Zealand has a very active niche Start-up/SME sector developing medical devices (including with ICT capability) and some pharma products that present opportunities for offshore investors. As product development evolves, limited local capital leads these entities to often seek investment offshore to enable products to progress through trial phases, and to scale up manufacture and commercialisation.

The relatively small markets size in Australia and New Zealand has led to a range of multinationals in the pharma and medical device sector operating in the market through local agents. The agency sector for pharma and device products is sophisticated with a range of established local businesses able to act as the local sponsor to meet regulatory requirements, and with GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) certification and capability to meet offshore manufacturers’ requirements.

In addition, recognised institutions (university and hospital) have internationally recognised expertise which enables offshore manufacturers to conduct product trials.

To discuss opportunities in New Zealand’s health sector, please contact us.