Improving data collection to tell the right stories

For the past two months, the KPI Programme team have been on the road meeting with people who lead, deliver and use services. As a team we would like to extend our sincere gratitude to everyone who has hosted and given us so much manaaki (care) over this time. These opportunities to connect kanohi ki te kanohi (face to face) have been a real privilege and we have returned energised and ready to plan more visits in the second half of 2023.

Whether it has been Whanganui, Te Whanganui-a-Tara, Tāmaki Makaurau, Waiariki or Waikato, Te Whatu Ora district services or NGOs… we have been greeted by people deeply passionate about the continuous improvement of mental health and addiction services. Despite a backdrop of uncertainty, change, resource and workforce shortages, our workforce is using data to drive innovation in their districts. This grass roots determination provides a solid foundation as more localities are activated in July 2023 to improve how healthcare is delivered in communities.

On 18 May, the KPI Programme team also hosted the first in person forensic stream benchmarking and continuous improvement hui in Pōneke since before the pandemic. More than 30 people joined the one-day event to share how they are working to improve cultural competency and understanding and explore current challenges linked to the collection of data about inpatient Forensic wait times. It was a unique chance to bring people together from our adult and youth forensic mental health services who would not normally get to connect in this way.

A common theme across our sector engagements has been the inconsistencies and gaps reflected in the PRIMHD data collection. While not perfect, PRIMHD does offer one of the most comprehensive pictures of who uses our Aotearoa New Zealand mental health and addiction services, and how they are accessed. It is also the primary data source for the KPI Programme, and the quality of the Programme’s data dashboards reflects the data inputted by services across the country. Without consistency, the potential of national benchmarking for continuous improvement can become limited.

Informed decision-making and advocacy for more resources can also be constrained without access to accurate and robust data. During a recent hui, a sector colleague shared how the PRIMHD codes provide an important way for people working in services to tell the stories of the people they serve… to show how their mahi (work) adds value for people and communities. Without the right data, funders, commissioners, and Government departments must anticipate what is required meaning at risk communities can miss out on the investment in the services and supports they really need, exacerbating the inequities that exist.

For stretched services, we understand data collection can feel like an additional, somewhat unimportant requirement when helping people. What we can say is that the data you capture everyday has mana (power) and contributes to our collective ability to make a positive difference for tāngata whai ora, whānau and communities. It is worth investing our time in.

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