Data a key theme at Emerging Tech in Health 2019 conference

Press Release –

Data and its collection, storage, governance and use was a major theme of the Emerging Tech in Health conference 2019 in Christchurch: A summary of some of the key presentations.

Getting real answers in real-time

Lloyd McCann, head of digital health at Healthcare Holdings, believes “we need to move from being a ‘what do we think?’ system, to a ‘what do we know?’ health system.

He showed attendees at ETIH 2019 how Mercy Radiology and Clinics used a data visualisation tool to optimise theatre utilisation by proactively monitoring theatre lists and reviewing those that are over or under used.

“Now, rather than waiting eight weeks for an answer we have answers in real-time” and this ensures data-driven decision making, McCann told attendees.

He said health professionals demand a high burden of proof for accepting data is correct and the system is slow to adopt or use the data once those conditions have been satisfied.

This means that once new practices eventually do get accepted as best practice, they can already be out of date.

McCann also pointed out the issue of having a true representation of the New Zealand patient population in the data that drives algorithms to ensure the use of these does not reinforce current inequities in the system.

The importance of social license

Simon Ross, lead data steward Data and Digital at Ministry of Health, and other speakers at ETIH spoke about the importance of maintaining and building on social license when using health data, by ensuring consumers are comfortable with the increased use.

Social license is key as, “if we breach that trust we can set ourselves back years”.

Ross said the Ministry is in the early stages of thinking about a data strategy and that data stewardship is a key component of the Ministry’s Digital Health Strategic Framework.

He believes there are real opportunities to be had from linking health sector and other social data, but said it is critical to have transparency and explicit consent when bringing it together.

The future is about creating and enabling a health system that is much more reliant on data and analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence, in order to give people the right access to the right information at the right time.

Data for breakfast

Steven Parrish, chief information officer at Taranaki DHB, spoke about his organisation’s “data journey” which he compared to climbing a mountain and never reaching the peak.

“We want to empower our people with the right information and insights at the right time so they can make the right decisions and take the right actions,” he told delegates at ETIH.

Creating a roadmap for data governance was a big challenge and chair of the group was the chief nursing officer as “we wanted clinicians to own and drive this”, Parrish said.

The DHB also holds regular ‘data for breakfast’ events where clinicians present on the outcomes they are getting from the data. One of these has been moving from having a relatively high number of post-partum haemorrhages to having below the Ministry of Health guideline number, after gaining insights from the data.

“We are providing the opportunity for people to ask the right questions: not necessarily answer the questions, but see data in a different way,” he said.

Update from the data summit

Shane Tong, chief information and digital officer at Auckland DHB, Karen Blake, regional manager health informatics at healthAlliance and Rebecca George, clinical lead Allied Health Informatics at Canterbury DHB updated the audience on work done since the first Data Summit held during the HiNZ 2018 conference in Wellington.

They said themes from that summit were around improving patient outcomes through data standards and literacy; defining data standards and frameworks and understanding how they will be implemented; and ensuring multi-disciplinary representation and participation.

Tong said the ADHB is about to set up a data steward group across the organisation and works closely with healthAlliance on the regional data governance framework.

Together they have set up a yammer group that anyone can join and a monthly open Zoom meeting to discuss data governance issues, with the first on 6 June 2019.

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