Dr Emily Gill is a General Practitioner in Opotiki and Te Kaha.

But next year she's moving her family to the United States for 12 months, so she can study how technology is changing healthcare in rural communities.

"Healthcare policy, at the end of the day, is most effective if it's pragmatic; if it's actually going to affect clinical care. So my role, I see, is to offer my perspective as a clinician, when the discussions around health care policy are being had."

Dr Gill had to submit a proposal to research how the Internet and digital technology could improve medical access for people living in rural circumstances.


Dr Gill operates out of two clinics weekly in the Eastern Bay of Plenty.

The study trip is being made possible by a prestigious Harkness Fellowship in Health care policy and practice.

She was nominated by colleague Dr Jo Scott-Jones. He hopes the experience will give Dr Gill ideas to implement back home.

"Rural communities are characterised by their distance from main centres and that distance creates particular pressures for the community and the health professionals within them," says Dr Scott-Jones.

Dr Gill says she is passionate about working with populations like Opotiki, and ensuring they are receiving the highest quality care.

"This opportunity with the Harkness Fellowship is going to upskill me, to understand how health care policy research is done and how the conversations contribute to health care policy makers."

Dr Gill will return to the Eastern Bay in 2018 - filled with new ideas on how to best serve the community.