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New national strategy aims to improve collection

28 July 2005

New national strategy aims to improve collection and use of mental health information

The Ministry of Health this week released a sector-wide mental health information strategy to ensure information-gathering across the sector is carried out in the most effective way to improve health outcomes.

Despite the diverse range of users of mental health information and the different purposes to which it is put, no overarching information strategy for mental health services has existed till now.

This has meant that a range of important IT projects and initiatives have been developed in an adhoc way without any means for ensuring there is no duplication, information gaps, or even if the information gathered fulfils its original purpose.

Dr Janice Wilson, the Ministry of Health's Deputy Director-General, Mental Health, said the National Mental Health Information Strategy signalled a shift in emphasis from straight information collection toward the better use and sharing of information at both local and national level. "The ongoing development of information systems offers stakeholders an opportunity to share information in a way that consumers should be confident that they will receive the best care regardless of which provider they see," she said.

"Well planned information developments in the future will mean improved access to mental health information for both consumers and providers. It will also lead to increased accountability in mental health spending," she said.

The strategy outlines the priorities guiding the development of national mental health information from 2005 to 2010.

The strategy deals with two main types of information: - Qualitative data: Information collected to support the delivery of care to individual consumers (commonly collected by patient management information systems). - Strategic management data: Information collected to support the management of mental health service systems (eg. for funding, planning, monitoring and policy development).

The strategy was developed following widespread consultation with stakeholders: consumers, caregivers, providers, managers, DHBs, funders, planners, Maori and national agencies. A discussion document: Mental Health Information Strategy - Key Directions,was released and public consultation meetings held.


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