Health NZ - Lotus Notes replacement

In 2023, we led a Health New Zealand - Te Whatu Ora and Pacific Health Funding - project to replace Lotus Notes with a modern Microsoft ecosystem.

The challenge

We love spearheading digital transformations that drive positive change for our clients. And we also love a challenge.

Anyone who has worked in the technology sector understands that legacy platforms are notoriously difficult to modernise or replace. That’s because they’re often the foundation for business-critical processes, and are intricately weaved into other important business applications like a vine around a tree.

That was certainly the case with Lotus Notes at Health NZ. The outdated platform was stifling innovation, creating significant process inefficiencies, and was approaching obsolescence. But it was so deeply ingrained in the organisation that it was always considered too difficult to unravel.

In mid 2023, Health NZ approached us with a challenge: replace their outdated Lotus Notes platform with a modern alternative and enable critical applications running on it to be rebuilt in a newer technology stack. 

One of these critical applications was the Pacific Health Scholarship Fund.

Pacific Health Scholarships support the development of our Pacific health and disability workforce, and every year, eligible students of Pacific Island descent can apply for tuition fee support when undertaking a medical, health or disability-related course accredited by the NZQA.

This annual funding application process takes place between December and March setting a hard deadline for project delivery. The pressure was on!

The solution

Microsoft’s Power Platform was already well established in both the Ministry of Health and Health NZ with approved design patterns from Voco already in place.

Our solution leveraged multiple components of the Microsoft suite integrating Power Platform alongside Microsoft 365 services to create a seamless ecosystem

The architecture was designed to facilitate fund intake, application processing, reporting, and document management for different types of funds.

Each component was deliberately selected to address specific needs while laying the foundation for future innovation:

1. Power Platform

The foundation of the system, Power Platform encompassed Power Apps, Power Automate, and Power BI, providing a versatile framework for application development and data analysis.

2. My Health Account

This component facilitated authentication and identity management for external users, ensuring secure access to the system's functionalities.

3. Azure AD

As the backbone of identity management, Azure AD played a crucial role in authenticating internal users, service accounts, and service principals.

4. Exchange

Integrated with the system for seamless communication, Exchange enabled the transmission of email notifications and correspondence related to fund applications and reviews.

5. Sharepoint

Utilised for document storage and records management, Sharepoint provided a centralised repository for storing and accessing relevant documents associated with fund applications.

6. Word Online

Used for converting a Word template into a PDF format, ensuring standardised and consistent document outputs.

7. Dataverse

Serving as the primary data store, Dataverse facilitated the storage and processing of fund applications, streamlining workflow management.

8. Power Pages

Custom-built portals tailored to the specific requirements of fund applicants and reviewers, Power Pages provided intuitive interfaces for accessing and managing fund-related tasks.

9. Model-driven app

Designed to cater to the needs of fund owners, the Model Driven App offered a structured user interface and predefined data models for efficient fund management.

10. Excel

Data exported to Excel enabled further analysis and reporting, empowering stakeholders with actionable insights.

...this platform is a thousand times better than good ‘ole Lotus Notes, and we can’t wait to unlock it’s full capability.
Business Owner

Health NZ


This is an extract from a note we received from the business owner after go live:

"It has truly been a team effort and Pacific Health workforce is extremely fortunate to have had the pleasure of working with you all. Thank you all for your patience and support in getting the product to where it is now. As we’ve repeatedly mentioned this platform is a thousand times better than good ‘ole Lotus Notes, and we can’t wait to unlock it’s full capability.”

By choosing the right tools and solution design for the requirements, we were able to develop an MVP that delivered tangible results early in the project, exceeding expectations and instilling confidence in the process.

The MVP not only showcased the capabilities of the new platform but also provided valuable insights for further refinement.

The successful launch marked the first major release within Health NZ's new Microsoft tenancy, representing a significant milestone in the organisation's digital transformation journey. And the positive feedback from  Health NZ's leadership reaffirmed the impact of our solution and the value it delivered.

Our collaboration with Health NZ is a great example of the transformative potential of modern digital solutions. By embracing innovation and leveraging Power Platform’s extensive out-of-box capabilities and low-code / no-code configuration-based approach, we not only addressed immediate challenges but also laid the groundwork for future growth and modernisation.

With Voco as a trusted partner, Health NZ is well positioned to continue its digital transformation journey with confidence and purpose.