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Ministry visualises mental health and addiction data

Monday, 17 August 2020  
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Return to home page editor Rebecca McBeth


The Ministry of Health has developed a data tool to better understand those New Zealanders experiencing mental health and addiction issues.

MoH business intelligence manager Eva Sundin says the Mental Health and Addiction (MHA) application was implemented in October 2018 to provide a joined-up view of MHA data for the Ministry and other trained and licensed users at DHBs, PHOs and NGOs.

“It is a data visualisation tool, so it's the power of being able to show the data visually, to help tell the story behind the data, and ask better questions and find avenues for further investigation,” she says.

The Qlik application pulls together data from six different sources - including medication dispensing,
 hospitalisations and social outcome indicators -  and contains about 36 million rows of data. 

Esther Lim, principal analyst national collections and reporting, says the range of inputs provides a broader view of the MHA population across the country and insight into differences between sub-populations (such as males and females) over time.

“With this Qlik application, we can estimate in a sustainable way, the proportion of people in New Zealand each year who have an indicator of an MHA condition each year and over a five-year period,” she explains. 

The application is also used to monitor service performance such as the use of seclusion and the use of the Mental Health Act.

Principal adviser on mental health at MoH Barry Welsh says, “this gives us a fuller picture of MHA activity across the country and because it covers five years of data we can look at trends and its really accessible and easy to use.

“A criticism has been that this data hasn't been visible to the sector, so they put all this information into a big national collection, but had no visibility of what's in there,” Welsh explains.

This improves data quality as people are more likely to engage with and improve their data collection if they get value back from it, he says.

There are around 60 users of the app, which all provide healthcare services and complete training.

It allows them to benchmark themselves against other agencies and plan for future needs.

Lim says DHBs are also beginning to use the application to reduce the need for NGO paper-based performance monitoring reporting and further developments will make this even easier.

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

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