2017 Clinicians’ Challenge finalists announced

The finalists in the 2017 Clinicians’ Challenge, chosen from 41 entries, focus on mental health, immunisation, online image recognition for diagnosing skin diseases and improving adherence to a low carbohydrate diet.

News article

29 August 2017
This page was updated 27 September 2017

2015 Clinians' Challenge winner Dr Hong Sheng Chiong is

using mobile technology to make ophthalmic care more

accessible globally.

Active project/development category

Dermatological diagnosis tool

Associate Professor Amanda Oakley and daughter Emily, finalists in the ‘active project/development’ category, are looking to develop a website tool which could transform dermatological diagnosis. They are proposing to add a search-and-reference tool to the DermNet NZ website of which Amanda is founder and Emily the development manager.

The tool would receive images of skin conditions from clinicians, compare them to skin disease images in the site’s vast library and instantly return a summary of the diagnoses associated with similar images.

This would lead to quicker, easier and more accurate diagnosing of skin diseases which are very common worldwide (it’s estimated that one in six visits to a doctor are for skin complaints and many communities have very limited access to dermatologists).

The aim is to partner with technology companies that could train artificial intelligence software to recognise the most popular and dangerous skin diseases in images through pattern recognition.

The tool would be available to physicians and other healthcare providers, free or at very low cost, in remote and urban locations globally. Access would be via any device that has internet connection – desktop or mobile.

Mental health professionals' app

The second finalists in the ‘active project/development’ category are registered nurse Dion Howard from Capital & Coast DHB and development team Jaymesh Master, Michael Smith and Rosie Parry who have created an app that supports mental health professionals to deliver safer, more effective crisis coaching to young adults and teenagers (rangatahi).

The app creates a log of crisis responses with rangatahi including summaries of phone and text conversations, the time calls/text messaging occurred and the amount of time spent working with a client. Having these details recorded supports analysis, earlier intervention, deciding on what therapeutic model to use and handover for ongoing crisis support.

Clinicians’ workload is also reduced where texting is used to interact with clients, as they don’t need to take screenshots of text messages for files or copy text logs into notes. Currently the app can be accessed via mobile devices with plans to host it to cloud which would enable desktop access.

New idea category

Online immunisation schedule catch-up calculator

In the ‘new idea’ category, finalists Jillian Boniface and Leanne Liggett from the Southern District Health Board are proposing to investigate the feasibility of building an online immunisation schedule catch-up calculator for New Zealand.

Where immigrant or refugee children have been vaccinated according to a different country’s schedule, a catch-up plan is required to bring these children in line with New Zealand’s national immunisation schedule.

The work involved is currently carried out manually by immunisation coordinators, before being passed back to practice nurses to complete the required immunisations.

An online immunisation calculator would simplify data collection, improve workflow efficiencies and support accurate clinical delivery in the shortest possible timeframe.

Electronic breath ketone sensor

Simon Thornley and his team at Auckland Regional Public Health Service, have developed an electronic breath ketone sensor for tracking the adherence of people with metabolic syndrome and type-2 diabetes to a low carbohydrate diet. Low carbohydrate diets can help with weight loss and improved glycaemic control in patients with diabetes. Ketones are a by-product and measure of fat metabolism, and can be used to monitor compliance with such diets.

The electronic breath ketone sensor has the potential to be an important and low-cost clinical tool to improve adherence to a low carbohydrate diet.


The finalists will present their cases at the 2017 Health Informatics New Zealand (HiNZ) conference in Rotorua in November, with the winners announced at the awards lunch on the last day.

The winner in each category will receive a grant of $8000 and the runner up in each category a $2000 grant. All finalists will receive free registration to the conference, valued at more than $1300 each.

The Clinicians’ Challenge, which the Ministry of Health runs in partnership with HiNZ, has been encouraging clinicians to come up with innovative ideas that can make a real difference to the way health care is delivered since 2011.