Latest News 30 May 2019 | Three years ago Dr Mataroria Lyndon’s life was on the cusp of massive change.
The Lead Clinical advisor for Maaori Health at Counties Manukau Health had put the final touches on his PhD in Medical Education and helped to launch Ko Awatea’s Health Equity Campaign. Almost the next day, he jumped on a plane bound for the USA, having closed off several enormous projects to embark on a fresh and equally enormous adventure.
As a Fulbright and Frank Knox Scholar, Dr Lyndon travelled to Boston to complete a Master’s Degree in Public Health at the prestigious Harvard University. He lived and studied in Boston for a year, absorbing its culture and trading health system stories with other international students.
Back in New Zealand now and juggling his role at CM Health with a lecturing position at the University of Auckland and a hosting role for an upcoming TVNZ health programme, The Checkup, Dr Lyndon says the year-long experience was invaluable for the connections and ideas he was exposed to. Among the many things that interested him during his studies was the use of Big Data to improve health outcomes.
“We know that research takes so long but the thing is, primary care and DHBs already have so much data and the key is how do we ask questions of the data to improve our services?”
Dr Lyndon says there is a great deal of potential for CM Health to mine existing information with a lens to improving practice and he is keen to see this develop.
The experience in Boston also gave him a new appreciation for the potential benefits of Artificial Intelligence (AI) within healthcare.
“It prompted me to think about how we can prepare our health workforce to be working more with AI. There are benefits to having a computer that doesn’t need a rest break,” he says, noting that AI is already used in several fields internationally including reading radiology and pathology results.
In fact, he recently convened HACK Aotearoa, an Artificial Intelligence in Aotearoa conference that was held in partnership with Massachusetts Institute of Technology MIT Critical Data.
Learning about the health systems in other countries was also enlightening and gave him an appreciation for New Zealand, he says.
“While our health system has its challenges, at times New Zealand was held up as a model internationally because of PHARMAC (the New Zealand agency that decides which pharmaceuticals to fund in New Zealand) and the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) which are both unique to NZ,” he says.
“We are doing good things in Aotearoa and at CM Health. We’ve got a long way to go though, especially for Maaori health disparities and health equity, but it is good to remember that we do have a lot of strengths that we can use to step up and respond to this challenge.
The Checkup, a factual show aimed at debunking common misconceptions about health, will air on TVNZ in July.
For further information on Hack Aotearoa: http://hackaotearoa.co.nz/