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New Allied Health data set standard for DHBs

Wednesday, 14 March 2018  
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eHealthNews editor Rebecca McBeth


District health boards can start implementing a new Allied Health data set standard published by the Ministry of Health.


The Standard defines the minimum data set to be captured by allied health staff in DHBs to record patient-related clinical activity. It is designed to support greater information sharing to improve workforce planning and service delivery.


While still an interim standard, DHBs can start implementing it for the five professions included at this stage: occupational therapy, physiotherapy, social work, speech and language therapy, and dietetics/nutrition.


The clinical lead for Allied Health informatics at Canterbury District Health Board, Rebecca George, chairs a working group that has been developing the standard since 2013. This involved a national audit of the data each DHB is currently collecting. She says that implementation should not be too onerous, as most DHBs collect a variation of the data elements already.


“It’s about embracing the future of how information will travel and be consistently provided. That needs to be reflected in how we standardise information,” says George. “The expectation is that the standard is mandatory and that the data set will be collected, because it will benefit services, patients and the national health system.” 


 She says the new standard was created because of inconsistencies in the data collected by Allied Health professionals and lack of visibility of the data. “While a lot of information is collected, we are unable to use it in a meaningful way regionally, nationally and internationally due the lack of standardisation,” she says.


The Health Information Standards Organisation released the standard for public consultation in September 2017, which attracted 24 submissions.


The consultation document says the move towards a single standardised data set “will require a significant paradigm shift in how information is collected.”


“It is recognised that the transition to obtain all elements of this data set will take time, particularly in negotiation with any industry partners involved in the systems in place,” it says.


George says there were submissions from professionals who are not yet included in the standard and want to be, such as psychologists.


There are more than 40 professions in the Allied Health workforce in New Zealand. While just five will initially be covered, George hopes that coverage will spread rapidly.


“Once it’s published we need to plan for the future how to evolve the standard and the process to see other professionals come on board,” she explains.


The new standard is aligned to SNOMED CT and can be used within digital and paper-based systems.




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