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South Island developing Regional Service Provider Index

Tuesday, 11 June 2019  
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Picture: Canterbury District Board staff will be among those whose with an RSPI, improving the ability to link data on care provided by all team members to each patient. editor Rebecca McBeth


The South Island Alliance is developing a Regional Service Provider Index in collaboration with the Ministry of Health.


The Ministry is in the process of updating the Health Provider Index, which uniquely identifies health practitioners, health provider organisations and facilities, and holds that information in a central, national database.


The RSPI will be an extension to the core service, providing greater granularity of information to the South Island’s five district health boards, such as a staff member’s team, organisation, service and specialty.


South Island Alliance information services programme director Paul Goddard says, “The benefit of granularity in terms of teams is if a person moves on after three months, any tests that come back on their patients are still assigned to a team to review”.


The HPI does not capture every health worker, such as non-registered professionals like speech language therapists.


Goddard says the South Island needs a means of identifying every member of the workforce and eventually wants all health workers to have an RSPI, not just clinical staff.


The region has a number of systems and each manages its own provider index, with some drawing information from the HPI, and maintaining and updating these is a time-consuming manual process.


While each patient has a unique identifier called a National Health Index number, health professionals can have a range of numbers associated with them depending on what system they are using.


“If we get this right we will have a simple system, we will gain efficiencies because we’re not maintaining disparate sources of information and we know where our source of data is,” Goddard says.


The South Island Alliance looked to work with the Ministry on the project after a Request for Proposal went out and the preferred product was from IBM, the same already used by the Ministry for the HPI.


The HPI upgrade is due to be completed in September and implementation of the RSPI across the South Island health system is estimated to start next April and take more than two years.


Other regions of New Zealand are looking at how they tackle the same problem and Midland DHBs are actively involved in the RSPI project.


“We worked out that we could partner and collaborate with the Ministry and if we get this right it also solves the problem for the rest of the country,” Goddard says.


Hywel Lloyd, GP and Southern DHB medical director, strategy, primary and community, says a unique identifier for all professionals is hugely important in order to understand more about quality of care and use and allocation of resources.


“If we can’t link the patient information with the person in their role in the system it’s extremely difficult to understand activity and quality,” he says.


“Linking of the HPI to patient encounters happens to a degree, but not throughout the health service, so we need to link the HPI in a more managed way to the concept of a team, within the concept of a facility, within the concept of an organisation.”


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