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Data drives measles response

Monday, 3 February 2020  
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Pictures: A heat map of people with measles by suburbs in Auckland (right) and Total Healthcare general manager Kate Moodabe (left). editor Rebecca McBeth


Use of real-time data to drive decision making allowed Auckland primary health organisation Total Healthcare to vaccinate 1700 people against measles in just five weeks.


Total Healthcare worked in collaboration with Tamaki Health on its response to the measles crisis, which is a finalist in the ‘Excellence in information technology’ award category in the New Zealand Primary Healthcare Awards | He Tohu Mauri Ora 2020.


Total Healthcare general manager Kate Moodabe tells that all the PHO’s 39 practices use practice management system Medtech Evolution. Early last year, the PHO built a data warehouse to make better use of patient information for preventative health.


“Because we already had a centralised data repository, putting this on top made it very quick and easy to activate the data and make it meaningful,” she says.


The system already collected immunisation data, so when the measles started spreading in Auckland they decided to use the new tool to target their response to where it was most needed.


The PHO had real-time information on where unimmunised people were clustered, where vaccines and staff were located and where measles cases were being reported.


This was visualised in a heatmap and dashboards that were reviewed on a daily basis, allowing the team to move supplies and staff into areas of high need.


“We were able to identify from the data warehouse and our Power BI tool where the biggest concentrations of measles outbreaks were in our patient population, and overlaid this with how many priority patients in each area required vaccination,” she says.


Moodabe says the timely use of data to drive decision making prevented people from getting measles, slowing its spread.


Around 1700 people were vaccinated in just five weeks and 7100 MMR vaccinations were given between August and October 2019.


More than half of those vaccinated were Māori or Pasifika and more than a quarter of vaccinations were given after hours.


She says the team is delighted to be a finalist as IT can sometimes seem boring, but this was a case of technology having a visible impact on people’s health.


The lessons learned are particularly important as the world deals with the novel coronavirus outbreak, Moodabe says.


If you would like to provide feedback on this news story, please contact the editor Rebecca McBeth.


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