|Dr Leanne Liggett and Jillian Boniface from Southern DHB, with their award.|
A proposal for an online immunisation catch-up calculator developed by two Invercargill-based public health staff won the New Idea category in the 2017 Clinician’s Challenge and an $8000 grant to bring the innovative system online.
Southern DHB Public Health Analyst Dr Leanne Liggett developed the idea with Jillian Boniface, Southern DHB Programme Leader for Vaccine Preventable Disease. The online system would streamline immunisation schedules to bring migrant and refugee children up-to-date with their immunisations, removing a lot of manual work.
As each country has different schedules and vaccine combinations, the idea for the calculator was formed in response to the increasing workload faced by nursing staff to determine the ‘catch-up’ immunisations required. Jillian and Leanne worked together to turn a nursing issue and a good idea into a proposal for a tool that won over the judges at their presentation at the Health Informatics New Zealand (HiNZ) conference in Rotorua earlier this month.
The aim is to develop a tool whereby practice nurses can take a child’s overseas immunisation history, enter it into the immunisation calculator and create a catch-up programme. The grant would allow them to start a feasibility study and determine what it would cost to develop it, roll it out locally, and then implement it nationwide. “The award is firstly a recognition of a nursing initiative, and secondly, the realisation that by working together we could take an idea from conversation piece to a potential reality,” says Leanne.
Jillian has worked in the immunisation field for 30 years and says she has seen the New Zealand schedule develop into a complex process, especially when it comes to catch-up schedules. “It is time consuming and currently a manual process, so if we can simplify the process via this tool, we will save significant time that will free up practice nurses and the Vaccine Preventable Disease (VPD) Team to concentrate on their many other clinical responsibilities.”
The Clinicians Challenge is an annual joint initiative by the Ministry of Health and HiNZ.