Cyclone Gabrielle has revealed cracks in Aotearoa's rural health system.
As she tore through townships, cut-off communities realised too late they had poor access to some services.
Professor of rural health at Otago University Garry Nixon believes the healthcare system needs to be decentralised.
Speaking with Tova on Monday morning, Nixon said Cyclone Gabrielle proves maintaining smaller healthcare services is crucial.
"They were left to themselves during the worst of the cyclone… communities were largely cut off from the larger hospitals and it was those small services that were so crucial," Nixon said.
"It's really important not to forget those smaller services and make every effort that we can to maintain them and wherever possible, provide services in those smaller communities."
While Nixon admitted communications were down during the cyclone and therefore an issue for those small services, he told O'Brien "a lot could be done" to better prepare and improve "reliable communications in the future".
"If we have a national rural health strategy - and there's a possibility that might happen - then there's a possibility things could improve.
"And technology is not always disadvantageous to that. In some regards, modern technology and point of care, laboratory testing and that sort of thing actually make it easier to provide care and services in those small places."
Listen to the full interview between Garry Nixon and Tova above.
You can also download the full interview on the Tova podcast, and listen on the go.