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Using data to prove the value of allied health

High quality data can be used to demonstrate the enormous value of allied health, says chief allied health professions officer Martin Chadwick.

Chadwick took up his new role at the Ministry of Health in February and will be speaking at the Emerging Tech in Health conference in Christchurch on 21-22 May 2019.

Part of his role is looking at: “what are the challenges that I feel allied health, as a collective, needs to pick up on” and he says one of those is demonstrating the value of allied health.

A way to do that is to use the cost utility framework, which requires reliable data.

“In healthcare we are always going to spend what we are given as demand always outstrips supply so it’s about ‘how to do we utilise what we have to best effect?’” he says

“There’s real potential to demonstrate the value of allied health and our utility to show you get as good or better outcomes for the same of less dollars spent.

“There’s already some really good examples of where allied health can do that, but we need good consistent reliable data to be able to build the case to say: ‘this is our utility’.”

Chadwick is a member of the National Allied Health Informatics Network that developed an allied health data standard for New Zealand, defining the minimum data set to be captured by allied health staff in DHBs to record patient-related clinical activity.

“The national standard has provided a really good grounding and base for us, but how do we take that to the next step?” he says.

While Chadwick’s role is not to lead the national implementation of the standard, he can “push the understanding of why we need to focus on this and make a clear argument about why we need better data capture to build the case for utility,” he says.

He gives the example of nurses agreeing a Safe Staffing Accord with DHBs last year as a positive way of using a large robust database to make real changes for clinical staff on the ground.

The nursing specific Care Capacity Demand Management tool determines the type and number of nursing staff needed for every shift in hospitals and Chadwick says a national allied health-specific tool needs to be developed.

“All credit to nursing and what they’ve been able to do with the safe staffing unit. It’s about how do we learn from that and how do we learn from what they didn’t do as well?” he says.


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