MedTech Bites August/September 2021 edition - edited by Kate Harsant

Spring is back, signalling new beginnings. While the world is still combatting Covid-19 and countries are coming up with different strategies to move forward, nobody has the magic wand as yet. But hopefully Covid-19 has emphasised the need for us all to be more collaborative, sharing, and caring. New Zealand is currently tackling its own recent outbreak and in the rush of lockdown the last issue of MedTech Bites went AWOL. But we are back up and running again.

There is an increased interest in digital health startups in todays environment. In the US, around $15 billion has been invested in this sector in the first 6 months of 2021 as reported by Forbes in July. Telehealth delivery has taken off since the pandemic with fast-paced adoption of online clinical consulting, prescriptions, and remote wellbeing care and support. Technologies that enable clinical trials to be undertaken safely in participants’ homes is another area that is growing quickly, as is using machine learning to accelerate drug discovery and development. The leading deals in the US (between $400 – 550 billion) in the last 6 months were made by weight-loss app Noom, Ro providing virtual primary care along with an online pharmacy, and Insitro with its AI drug discovery and development platform. Check out CBInsight’s State Of Healthcare Q2’21 Report: Investment & Sector Trends To Watch for the latest data and trends.

In this issue, we cover two key topics on health innovation in New Zealand. The first is an insight into the drivers of innovation at Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) with Via Innovations, following on from our earlier stories on Waitemata and Auckland District Health Boards. Health technology innovation needs to be driven from business principles for it to be scalable and sustainable but it needs to benefit the patient. While Via Innovations was created to support CDHB’s own system, there is a real interest in finding technologies that can also be scaled across the NZ health system to address the constraints of resources and budgets.

Innovating to solve indigenous health issues is now a focus in many nations. While New Zealand has had a headstart in many ways in partnering with our Māori community, researchers and industry still have a lot to learn on how to do this properly. The second key topic focusses on the meaning of Māori data sovereignty and how to build relationships beyond just “consulting Māori” in developing and delivering social and health care.  Daymon Nin, Chief Customer Officer at Whānau Tahi, reminds us that Māori want to determine their own future.

We also meet Kate Harsant who has recently taken over as MedTech Bites editor. Kate has seamlessly continued the flow of the newsletter, but her challenge is to give the MedTech Monster a “Kate” flair – keep an eye out to see what comes next. Kate’s contribution this month is an article she spotted in UniNews about the Auckland Medical History Museum ensconced in a corner at Auckland Hospital. This might spur those in Auckland to visit at some point in time!

Dr Diana Siew
CMDT Co-Chair 


Innovation big and small at Via Innovations

Innovation can be as simple as replicating an overseas idea so that it fits with the Kiwi way of doing things, or it can be more complex, such as developing an idea ‘from the ground up’.

Read more here

Work "with" Māori to maximise data sovereignty and relationships

When it comes to health and social wellbeing, we tend to consult with Māori, gather their data, and move on. There is much more to be gained by working with Maori, according to Daymon Nin, Chief Customer Officer at Whānau Tahi, a social enterprise in the social and health sectors.

Medicine's curiosities on show 

Tucked away in a corner building at Auckland Hospital is a little-known library housing fascinating medical, nursing and dental artefacts, and even artworks. The Ernest and Marion Davis Memorial Library has everything from beautiful apothecary jars to gruesome-looking stainless steel catheters and cupping devices, along with 5,000 books.

Read more here

Introducing Kate Harsant

Kate lives a double life – science by day and art by night.
For the last nine years, Kate has been EA to Distinguished Professor Peter Hunter while also providing general admin support to the Auckland Bioengineering Institute. Now, she’s co-ordinating Di Siew’s hectic diary and supporting CMDT activities.

Read more here


Yammer Open Mic Session with Jon Herries, MoH

Where: online
When: September 16

Log in to Yammer here

HiNZ Member Event: Health Reform Update

Where: Online
When: September 22

Register here


Digital Health Week NZ

Where: Wellington
When: November 29 - December 1

Register here

Queenstown Research Week

Where: Queenstown
When: December 6-9 (new dates)

More info here


NZHiT Grand Hall Event - Parliament

Guest speakers:

  • Hon Andrew Little, Minister of Health

  • Dr Ashley Bloomfield, Director General, Ministry of Health

  • Shayne Hunter, Deputy Director General, Ministry of Health, Data and Digital

Where: Wellington
When: March 2, 2022

Register here
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