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Plunket creates info system improving child health

Plunket creates information system to improve child health

A new computer information system developed by Plunket that collects, captures and reports on a variety of child health services will ultimately result in healthier children.

The Plunket Client Information System (PCIS), was a finalist in the 2004 Computerworld Excellence Awards, Use of IT in a Not for Profit Organisation, held in Auckland last night (subs: 25 June).

Plunket's general manager clinical services, Angela Baldwin, says better information is central to improving health services for children.

"PCIS allows us to identify and follow-up those clients who do not access well child checks. We are also able to provide data on a variety of topics including breastfeeding rates and exposure to smoking," she says.

Plunket sees approximately 90 percent of babies born each year, usually around 50,000. This means up to 250,000 under five-year-olds and their caregivers have 450,000 well child contacts from Plunket field staff each year.

Plunket Nurses, Kaiawhina and Community Karitane, manually record information onto a 'check box form'. The forms are collated by Plunket's 18 area offices each week, scanned and then stored electronically onto the Plunket Operational National Database (POND).

"Through PCIS, we can then access the information, analyse the data, look at emerging trends, and plan more effective programmes to target those in need, wherever in the country they are," says Angela Baldwin.

"The data provides information regarding the health services needed in the communities Plunket serves. It identifies gaps in services and enables a closer working relationship with District Health Boards (DHBs) and Primary Health Organisations (PHOs).

"We are now able to provide valuable reports on child health as part of our contractual obligations to the Ministry of Health and DHBs," she says.

PCIS is also compatible with Kidslink, a Ministry of Health electronic database, still in its pilot stage.

Building on POND, the previous information system, the PCIS project began in May 2001 with health and IT sector consultations. Plunket field staff began using the system to collect data from 1 April 2002. Three months later PCIS was up and running across the organisation.

The project team consisted of Plunket's clinical, management and information technology staff partnering with Datamail, JADE Software and Critchlow Associates.

Angela Baldwin says PCIS is a huge leap forward in the area of child health.

"We have created a system which provides key information to assist in achieving the objectives of the Child Health Strategy. This system a allows us to work with ministries and other health professionals to ensure that all children have access to well child services that are holistic, integrated and of a consistent high quality."

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