A business model from COVID: IT lessons from NZ’s health response

The shifts that aided the pandemic response are also key to a revitalised, digital health care system for New Zealand.

man in business suit wears a face mask post covid office workplaces by ivan kocha gettyimages 12205
Ivan Kocha / Getty Images

Of all the ways to think about a pandemic, the idea that it is a business model is not the most obvious. But for IT teams across New Zealand, who responded at speed to the crisis, COVID-19 continues to provide a lesson in digital transformation. This is especially true of the health technology response, said Shayne Tong, chief digital officer at Auckland District Health Board (ADHB).

“It was just incredible, the mindset changes we had to do to survive, and it was all about organising around a common enemy, which was COVID,” he says.

Rapid response to a health crisis is essential

shayne tong of auckland dhb Auckland DHB

Shayne Tong, chief digital officer at the Auckland District Health Board

For Tong, the key word is “rapid”—rapid decision-making, rapid development, rapid iteration, and rapid outcomes. During those “frenetic” first weeks of the lockdown in March 2020, Tong says that his team “threw all the traditional ways of working and processes out and just said, ‘What do we need to do to respond to our customers, our clinicians, to make this happen?’.”

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