If we are to be truly successful, our health system must innovate and collaborate.

Southern Innovation Challenge has been a major catalyst for staff to bring ideas forward for support and funding over the previous five years and, continues to be one way of engaging, to receive ideas.

For the first time this year, entry is open to the whole Southern Health System – both our own DHB services as well as non-government organisations (NGO’s) and primary care. We encourage and will look favorably on applications received from partnerships or groups formed for the purposes of demonstrating innovation that promotes collaboration and/or integration across the system, as per the goals of the Draft Southern Primary and Community Care Strategy.

View our Innovation Strategy


2018 winners

Southern Innovation Challenge winners announced

The Southern DHB will fund a feasibility study into the prospect of establishing community care cottages for people living with dementia in Central Otago, after the idea was named overall winner of the Southern DHB's 2018 Southern Innovation Challenge. 

Innovation Awarded: Back row: Chin Loh, Sam Shaw, Jane Craig-Pearson. Front Row: Virginia McCall, Vanessa Pullan

Community care cottages are small, supported-living homes with four-to-five bedrooms and shared communal facilities, allowing people with dementia to live as independently as possible in a home-like atmosphere. Unlike large residential facilities, daily routines can be more flexible in care cottages, better suiting the needs and preferences of individual residents.

In the winning proposal from Healthcare New Zealand Community Health, Programme Manager: Health of Older People, Vanessa Pullan, cited international research showing "increased levels of engagement and decreased levels of distress and behavioural challenges when dementia patients were moved from large dementia units into care cottages."

She also identified a need for increased, local health services for people living with dementia in Central Otago, with Statistics New Zealand projections indicating over-65s will be the predominant age group in the region in ten years.

Virginia McCall and Vanessa Pullan with Chris Fleming

This need was acknowledged by Central Otago Mayor, Tim Cadogan, in a letter of support for the proposal. In it, he recalled an encounter with an elderly Alexandra man whose wife is in dementia care in Dunedin.

"That is a 400-kilometres round trip that this 70-year-old drives every week and has done for several years, just so he can see his wife," Mr Cadogan wrote. "I almost wept on hearing his story."

Southern DHB Executive Director People, Culture and Technology, Mike Collins, says the proposal is timely.

"We know that improved access to local dementia care is a priority for Central Otago residents," he says. "Establishing dementia care cottages in the region could provide the opportunity for more people living with dementia to enjoy improved health outcomes and to remain in their local communities, close to their whānau and wider support networks. We await the results of the feasibility study with great interest."

There were four other winning ideas:


Chief Executive Officer Award: Virtual Health Clinics in Dunedin's Antidote Pharmacie

This pilot programme involves the installation of virtual health assessment booths in all six Antidote pharmacies across Dunedin, linking directly to Maihealth, a cloud-based health service run by Dr Lance O'Sullivan.

The booths will be equipped with the necessary tools for assessing a variety of physiological signs, allowing patients to quantify their symptoms with help from a specially-trained staff member.


Chris Fleming and Chin Loh

Patient Priority Award: Dunedin Hospital Clinical Skills Lab

A fit-for-purpose remodel of seminar room will establish a realistic single ward bed environment to facilitate simulation teaching.

Simulation training is a proven tool for skill advancement and improving patient outcomes, and integrating this into the hospital environment will help embed it into core culture and practice.


Chris Fleming with Sam Shaw

Staff Priority Award: Strengthening partnerships in a clinical setting

A range of resources will be developed and delivered to support productive and collaborative working relationships between healthcare staff within the wider Southern DHB and its partners.

Because strong inter-professional collaboration can improve outcomes for patients, shared education on collaboration will be provided to doctors and nurses currently in the workforce and to students in training.

Chris Fleming and Jane Craig-Pearson  

Community Priority Award: Video tools informing patients of invasive examinations

The Radiology Service with Southland Hospital will produce a series of videos about common diagnostic procedures, including scans by ultrasound, CT and MRI, for patients to watch ahead of their scheduled appointments.

The videos will show the environment and equipment used to perform these examinations, in order to better inform patients and reduce levels of patient anxiety.

Debbie Fahey, Kirsten Worthington, Andrew Baird and Stephen Jenkins

The Southern Innovation Challenge is now in its sixth year and received a total of 33 entries in 2018. This year's winners will now be able to advance their proposals with the help of prize money and organisational support. 


Previous Projects

Exploration of Australian CADD pumps

– Amy Suddaby, Bridgett McDiarmid, Simon Pointer, Therese Duncan

2017 Southern Innovation challenge

What does this idea do?

The use of these pumps allow patients to be treated at home rather than have to come into hospital for several days.

Why did you come up with the idea?

Personal experience working with CADD pumps model of care at University College Hospital London. This model of chemotherapy administration care using the CADD pumps is also being used closer to home, in Australia. 

What difference will the idea make?

There has been an international shift in the location of the treatment delivery from an inpatient setting to an outpatient setting.  Overwhelming literature and evidence demonstrates an improved patient experience by encouraging an attitude of self-care



REDCaps App

– Simone Jeffrey, Mike O’Brien, Karen Beirne

2017 Southern Innovation challenge

What does this idea do?

It provides us an online method of sharing information with our clients. Part of our role is to contact people diagnosed with certain infectious diseases, usually over the phone or by sending a questionnaire and pamphlet in the post.

Why did you come up with the idea?

An outbreak of mumps in the student population pushed us to find a method that more suited to this demographic.

What difference will the idea make?

It should make it much easier for us to communicate with our clients and save us time.

What’s next for this idea?

We’re currently working on getting the approval needed to invest in an application called REDCaps. If approved, the application could prove useful to users across the District Health Board.


Get fit for surgery

– Kim Snoep, Gillian Fewster

2017 Southern Innovation Challenge

What does this idea do?

It helps patients get their bodies prepared for colorectal surgery.

Why did you come up with the idea?

There is great potential for achieving better outcomes for patients who are better prepared for surgery.

What difference will the idea make?

We want to get the patient’s mind and body ready for surgery, and start working with them as soon as they receive their diagnosis. That would include helping patients with their nutrition if they are undernourished, helping them with their mental preparation for surgery and recovery, and also making sure that their whanau know how to assist them.

What’s next for this idea?

Once it has achieved successful outcomes in Southland, there will be an opportunity to see how it can shape procedures in the rest of the Southern region.



In-Situ Training

- Ohad Dar, Layla Hehir

2017 Southern Innovation Challenge

What does this idea do?

‘Pop up’ training simulations, which replicate real medical emergencies, provide an opportunity for medical staff to prepare for emergency situations.

Why did you come up with the idea?

Dr Layla Hehir is completing a diploma in simulation and wanted put the ideas into practice.She has help from emergency department consultant Dr Ohad Dar who is also co-director of the Otago Clinical Skills Laboratories.

What difference will the idea make?

It’s about being able to practise emergencies, but also day-to-day healthcare, in a safe environment, as opposed to actually doing something for the first time for real when you are on a ward.

What’s next for this idea?

The programme will expand this year, with a simulation specialist visiting to teach interested staff how to run simulations in their own departments.



Naturalistic Light

- Kristina Aluzalte

2017 Southern Innovation Challenge

What does this idea do?

Hospital inpatients suffer considerable sleep disturbances; whilst many factors are implicated; one readily remediable factor is ambient lighting.

Why did you come up with the idea?

Studies show that poor lighting results in patients’ slower recovery, increased mortality and lower overall well-being.

What difference will the idea make?

We hypothesize that installing naturalistic lights would create a recovery-supporting environment for patients and a productive space for staff, resulting in better health outcomes and potentially reduced healthcare costs.

What’s next for this idea?

Partnering with the Southern DHB to trial a system which dims lights to different wavelengths in the evenings.



Carpel Tunnel Funnel – One-Stop-Shop Carpal Tunnel Surgery in the Outpatient Clinic

- Jo Hunter, Jo Clark, Paul Rae

2016 Southern Innovation Challenge

What does this idea do?

Historically any patient requiring a carpal tunnel release had to wait to be booked into an operating theatre for surgery. They had to wait until the end of the theatre list to have their surgery performed, sometimes resulting in being cancelled due to list overrun.

Why did you come up with the idea?

"Waiting is waste" and patients time is valuable.

What difference will the idea make?

The one-stop shop approach reduces patient's waiting time both for their surgery but also guarantees their procedure on the day at a specified time. An audit of the patient experience during the pilot has shown excellent feedback.



Pre-Surgery Patient Journey Postcard

- Marianne Te Tau

2016 Southern Innovation Challenge

What does this idea do?

The orthopaedic elective surgery postcard gives patients a timeline and point of contact for each step in the elective pre-operative process, and access to the 0800 phone number.

Why did you come up with the idea?

Patients were getting confused between preadmission and the newly established Anaesthetic clinic, also they didn’t know who to call if they had a question relating to their elective surgery date or where they might be along the continuum.

What difference has the idea made?

Patients say it has helped them understand the process better.

What’s next for this idea?

We hope to introduce it to dental patients, and other services.



MRI DVD player and screen

- Jacquie Copland, Jill Oliver

2016 Southern Innovation Challenge

What does this idea do?

We are able to play DVDs for children having MRI scans.

Why did you come up with the idea?

To reduce the number of children needing general anaesthetic for their MRI and to improve the MRI experience for children who are having awake scans.

What difference has the idea made?

Children having an MRI enjoy being able to choose a DVD to watch during their scan. It empowers them to have some control over their procedure.  Our referrers are now asking specifically for awake scans in some patients rather than general anaesthetic scans. While some children will always need general anaesthetic, we have been surprised at how well some young children will cope with their MRI with a DVD to watch!

What’s next for this idea?

We would love to implement a similar program for our Invercargill site!



MicroGuide App

- Brendan Arnold, James Ussher, Craig MacKenzie

2016 Southern Innovation Challenge

What does this idea do?

The MicroGuide App, is an application that doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other health staff at SDHB can download onto their smart phone, to access our local empiric antibiotic treatment guidelines.

Why did you come up with the idea?

MicroGuide was developed in the UK and is used by many Hospital Trusts.  We found that our local guidelines were being poorly utilised by clinicians due to time pressure and access issues.  We considered MicroGuide as a great solution.  

What difference will the idea make?

The app facilitates rapid and simple access to the Antibiotic Guidelines at the point-of-care.

What’s next for this idea?

We will continue to develop and enhanced the guidelines.  Our intention is to then audit compliance with the guidelines as part of the Antimicrobial Stewardship program.



Breaking the Mould: Fracture Clinic redesign in the Emergency Department

- Lara Gleeson and Olivia Murray

2015 Southern Innovation Challenge

What does this idea do?

The aim is to reduce throughput by using management guidelines (MGs) for certain fractures that are safe to be a direct discharge from the ED and require no fracture clinic follow up. We have created a management guideline and patient handout sheet for each of the seven injuries identified. We now have seven management guidelines up and running.

Why did we come up with this idea?  

Initially it was through Mr Paul Rae who was head of the Orthopaedic department at the time. He had seen the Royal Glasgow Infirmary in Scotland redesign their fracture clinic. He had the vision for using the virtual system in our fracture clinic so the management guidelines were a way to reduce unnecessary referrals and throughput through the fracture clinic initially.

What difference has the idea made?

The difference has been significant. We audit each of the 7 MGs monthly so we know the numbers and cost savings to the DHB.

For example – savings to DHB

2016 (5 Management guidelines) $30, 000

2017 (3 management guidelines) $23, 000

2018 (to June) (3 management guidelines) $14, 000

We know that this allows fracture clinic staff to focus on patients who need their services and skills in fracture clinic and this reduces the need for parents/children / adults to take time out school, work to attend appointments.

It’s also time saving for nurses in the ED who used to place plaster casts on some of these injuries and now use moonboots, splints.

What’s next?

We continue to audit these MGs. Olivia and I are presenting at the orthopaedic nurses conference at Te Papa in Wellington in August as invited guest speakers.