Ernie Newman's interest in what information and communications technology can deliver for health services dates back to 2002. That was the year of the National Broadband Applications Project designed to identify how ubiquitous, high speed connectivity could improve our economy.
When the New Zealand government initiated the Ultra Fast Broadband network in 2009, the National Health IT Board engaged TUANZ to support it in a series of seminars around New Zealand to talk about the benefits to health outcomes and get feedback from a cross section of informed consumers. Ernie co-fronted those seminars. They focused on the Board's flagship policy - delivery of personal on-line health records for every consumer by 2014.
On becoming a consultant in 2010, Ernie was engaged by the NHITB to implement and chair a panel of informed consumers to provide feedback on consumer issues, with a specific focus on privacy. This role involved driving a concensus within the Panel, assessing public views and reporting to the Board on these, dealing with legal teams in several government agencies, and developing an agreed paper on "consumer expectations" around the sensitive area of privacy of personal health data. There was significant interaction with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner.
In 2012 he was engaged by the Commerce Commission to write two chapters of the Commission's Demand-Side Study on the broadband market, one of which was on health. This involved interviewing some 30 experts in New Zealand and overseas, distilling their views, and writing up the conclusions for public consumption.
Since then Ernie has specialised in telehealth - the use of video as a communication tool in health treatment. As facilitator of the Telehealth Demonstration Project 2013-15, funded jointly by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, National Health IT Board, Tairawhiti District Health and the Bay of Plenty District Health Board he took telehealth to a new level.
These have all been significant change management
projects, implementing sustainable video communication between patients and clinicians with a focus on hard-to-reach locations. They have involved technology, business processes, finance, training and personal leadership.
Ernie maintains his knowledge by participating in industry organisations and international conferences. He has attended eHealth conferences in the UK, Australia and Singapore, played a role in New Zealand's Telehealth Forum, and spent 2 years on the Executive of Health Informatics New Zealand where he was instrumental in transformation of the organisation to meet the challenges of e-health's rise to centre stage..