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Information Systems for Public Health
Te Mana Ora | Community and Public Health maintains an Information Systems capability, with a strong emphasis on the effective development and use of software and systems which directly support the work of Community and Public Health, and other partner agencies.
The Information Systems team developed and now maintain the following web-based applications:
- The South Island Public Health Action Network (SIPHAN) Information Base – an information sharing/ discussion group system currently in use by public health networks, and health work stream groups.
- Content Management System-based public health websites including:
- Web portals and file sharing systems supporting joint work, including Health in All Policies workplan between the Canterbury DHB, Christchurch City Council and Environment Canterbury, and the Greater Christchurch Urban Development Strategy (UDS).
- HealthScape – a database system recording and reporting on public health service activities and group collaborations.
Te Mana Ora | Community and Public Health are also able to provide the following services to other health sector agencies:
- on-demand desktop GIS mapping and analysis; and
- data management and analysis.
Our particular interest is the sustainable provision of cost-effective information services and applications utilising existing capabilities and infrastructure within the regional public health sector.
HealthScape: a highly adaptable database system
The most successful of Community and Public Health web application is HealthScape – developed in-house by former Information Architect Chris Ambrose.
HealthScape is similar to a patient management system such as HealthOne except it is focused on settings, not patients. HealthScape has been used for more than 10 years to record the interactions Community and Public staff have in settings such as schools, Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) and licensed premises. It allows staff to see what interactions other staff have with a particular organisation and what was discussed.
HealthScape was upgraded to a new platform in 2018, and this application is now supporting public health services for eleven district health boards.
Former General Manager Evon Currie said that HealthScape provides an amazing overview of what public health is doing. “It’s no surprise that HealthScape is becoming more and more popular. It helps avoid duplication and promotes transparency, by providing up-to-date and consistent data on what’s happening. It runs off existing DHB IT infrastructure and software and supports a paperless environment” said Evon.
New guidance on health and disability data and information
The health and disability system is good at collecting large amounts of data but less effective at connecting and using that data. Further, not all information is digitised and where it is there is variation in the way data is recorded. Data is often duplicated which makes it challenging and expensive to ensure the system is working with data from a trusted source.
The Ministry of Health has developed a Data and Health Information Strategy for the sector. This document advises the health and disability sector of significant changes needed to get the best value from data and information collected and to ensure people have as much control as possible over their personal health information.
It also sets clear priorities for the sector on how to improve the ways we manage, use and share health and disability data and information.
My Medicines: Making information available for patients and health professionals
My Medicines is a digital library of patient information about medicines. The information is available to print or download in a variety of formats to allow for different requirements.
Commonly used content like side effects can be easily edited and then updated across the whole library.
My Medicines was created by Community and Public Health in collaboration with the Canterbury DHB Department of Clinical Pharmacology.