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Portal provides central access for health data

CAMERON MASSEY
Last updated 12:20 22/08/2014

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Low immunisation rates and a challenging geographical area are behind the Thames-Coromandel and Hauraki districts being used as a pilot for an innovative child healthcare information sharing scheme.

At the launch of the National Child Health Information Programme (NCHIP) this week in Thames, chief executive of Midlands Health Network John Macaskill-Smith said the project, a first for New Zealand, was an exciting venture.

"I think it is really important for kids, because too many kids are getting lost in the system," Macaskill-Smith said.

NCHIP is an electronic portal set up by Midlands Health Network in conjunction with Ministry of Health and the National Health IT Board, that enables healthcare providers to view, share and live update data on children.

"The big thing is when a kid is born, at the moment, their midwife is required to fill out six different paper based forms and send them to six different places, which are where the first errors start to occur," Macaskill-Smith said.

"This new system has one electronic form that they will be able to do on a tablet or smart phone or computer and it auto registers the child in all of the systems."

The system is able to confirm that a child has been registered with a general practitioner and can send alerts if needed.

"If there is no acceptance of that enrolment then the system will go in and find the family and say ‘look, that GP didn't confirm enrolment, we'll offer you another GP. Here are all the other GPs in the area"," Macaskill-Smith said.

There are 29 checks for children aged from new born to six years, including immunisation and visual and hearing checks, NCHIP creates a central record and ticks them off as the children are getting them.

"At the first phase we're only doing for kids 0 - 6 years-old, but we'd like to be able to roll this over to 18 years of age," Macaskill-Smith said.

The designers of the programme wanted to test it an area that was rural, had geography issues, and had multiple healthcare providers.

Midwife Shirley Hopping said while the process is not new, the fact that the system checks each step of the way means children are less likely to miss out.

"The biggest thing is that we've always done that stuff, but now we'll be able to go on the portal to check that it actually has gone and it has been received," Hopping said.

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