hMael products to be discontinued at the end of January 2021
Patients First will discontinue the hMael products from 29 January 2021, Chief Executive Mark Corbitt confirmed today.
“We’re disappointed that we can no longer provide hMael, especially because it provides more protection than standard email services. But, as a charitable organisation, we need to focus our funding on core products and services”, Mr Corbitt said. Patients First receives funding from the Ministry of Health to provide a number of core services, however that funding does not extend to hMael.
As a result of COVID-19 Patients First observed a 2/3rd decrease in new hMael accounts, along with a corresponding drop in patient transfers between practices using the GP2GP product during lockdown. Mr Corbitt said, “we are pleased to see that GP2GP has rebounded, but unfortunately hMael has not. And because of changes in working practices of users we’re not expecting that to change for hMael.”
With both factors combined, this means hMael’s five-year life will soon come to an end.
hMael’s role and purpose
In an age where cyber security threats are increasing in scope, sophistication and severity, hMael played a key role for users in helping reduce the risk of sensitive patient information being intercepted. It was launched in December 2015 to provide a safe and secure alternative for health sector professionals to send sensitive patient information by email. Users around New Zealand range from General Practices, to DHBs and PHOs, to allied health.
In early 2017 hMael underwent a major infrastructure upgrade to provide new features and improved functionality for users. More recently, a fully integrated version of hMael for Microsoft Outlook and a new hMael Windows application were launched in December 2019. These upgrades provided a seamless Outlook experience and offered significant time savings to users.
Next steps for hMael users and Patients First
Patients First will contact hMael customers to provide instructions for transitioning and some information on alternatives. If you are an hMael customer and you haven’t heard from Patients First by 27 November 2020, please contact us.
Patients First’s focus remains firmly on working across the health system to provide tools and facilitation around integration of information between health providers for the benefit of patients. Mr Corbitt said, “even though we’re saying goodbye to hMael, our focus on cybersecurity and protecting sensitive patient information remains strong.” The team at Patients First can provide you practical advice and guidance on how to navigate being more cyber secure, including simple guides or a free assessment. View our resources for some helpful information on cybersecurity.