The findings of a collaboration between the South Island Alliance and the University of Canterbury (UC) to understand and improve the health care needs of older people has been presented to the health care community.
This collaboration is the first time data from interRAI, an electronic assessment tool used by all South Island DHBs, has been combined with other health data sets to inform health service development.
The analysis was carried out by UC statistics and mathematics students as a part of their degree programme, in conjunction with the New Zealand Health and Ageing Group, and the South Island Alliance’s Health of Older People Service Level Alliance (HOPSLA).
The students analysed data recorded by the five South Island DHBs between September 2012 and September 2015 and focused on InterRAI Homecare 9.1 data in relation to three key topics – predictors of poor outcomes in dementia, predictors of hip fractures and serious injuries, and end of life issues. Analysis questions were developed in conjunction with clinical supporters and the students completed a minimum of 400 hours on each topic over the summer period, alongside their supervisors.
Dr Hamish Jamieson, geriatrician and senior lecturer in medicine helped coordinate students for the project and says the aim was to support effective planning of future health services. “Our population is ageing and one of the ways we can help improve health outcomes is through data analysis, so that health care providers can be informed about the trends and outcomes of older people living in the South Island.”
InterRAI produces 8000 standardised assessments on elderly people in the South Island per year, he says. “We receive about 10 million pieces of this electronically recorded information per year, and we would like to analyse this data on a continued basis.”
The students presented the review results via video conference to a range of health care professionals across the South Island, including DHBs, aged residential care and primary care. “We achieved some really interesting results and attendees were very impressed with the students’ research,” Hamish says. “For example, 2,800 people in New Zealand suffer from hip fractures every year, which is a very traumatic and painful experience. The data showed the predictors for those who have a higher chance of suffering from hip fractures, so they can now be targeted through the health industry.”
Professor Jennifer Brown, of the UC School of Mathematics and Statistics, facilitates project work associated with InterRAI. “This is a great way for students to develop their skills and seed their enthusiasm for work in the health sector,” she says. “It opens up a whole range of possibilities for them in future employment, as well as postgraduate studies, which contributes to improving health care in New Zealand. The results from this project have been fantastic and the feedback from health providers was overwhelmingly positive.”
To view the InterRAI data review report, click here.