Horizon Scanning in the New Zealand Health System

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Horizon scanning is a process or system which seeks to systematically and proactively identify
current, new, and emerging health technologies with the potential to significantly impact
patients, other stakeholders and the healthcare system. The horizon scanning process may cover
a range of technologies including medicines, medical devices, vaccines, tests, diagnostics, and
models of care. It aims to facilitate timely, forward-looking decision making, increasing patient
access to new emerging technologies, and improve patient health outcomes.

Internationally, horizon scanning is an established and growing practice, operating in the UK,
Europe, Canada, the USA, and Singapore. Over the last few years, healthcare system reform
processes in Australia have led to a national commitment between government and the
pharmaceutical industry to conduct an annual horizon scanning forum.
In recent times, New Zealand’s healthcare system has experienced significant changes. These
including new health policy settings and priorities; structural, organisational, and planning
changes; changes to healthcare intervention funding including decision making processes, and
an increasing emphasis on ensuring needs-based access to the healthcare system and health
outcomes. However, New Zealand does not currently have a formalised, coordinated healthcare
horizon scanning system.

“Horizon Scanning in the New Zealand Health System” was commissioned by Medicines
New Zealand and represents Biointelect’s second paper outlining the case for national
health technology horizon scanning systems following, “Strengthening Australia’s
Approach to Horizon Scanning for New Therapies”, released in 2022.

This report introduces the concept of healthcare system horizon scanning and puts forward the
case for establishing a holistic horizon scanning function in New Zealand, ‘shining a light’ on how
horizon scanning can benefit the New Zealand healthcare system, patients, and broader New
Zealand society. Having outlined horizon scanning’s potential, the report proposes key principles
any New Zealand horizon scanning function should be based on. The report closes by outlining
potential next steps that could be taken towards the development of a horizon scanning function.

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