Measuring the patient journey

Taranaki District Health Board (TDHB) is a Crown entity responsible for the provision and funding of health and disability services in the region. It is one of 21 district health boards established nationally on January 1, 2001. It governs all Taranaki public hospitals, community services, including district nursing, health education and public health, such as health promotion and protection. It will soon be responsible for many private services, such as GPs, private rest homes and other health service providers, who have previously contracted with a Government agency (the health Funding Authority or HFA) for services. These organisations will now contract with the board to provide their services in Taranaki. The board will control a $280 million annual budget.

The Challenge 

The National Patient Flow programme is a multi-year programme of work aimed at measuring the patient journey through secondary care services.

It will provide information on the patients referred for specialist services, the outcome of referrals and the time it takes patients to access care. National Patient Flow will contribute to more integrated care so that patients can receive the most appropriate services, in the right setting and in a timely way to improve overall health outcomes. 

It will capture the outcome of the referral decision so that the demand for services and whether it is being appropriately met, can be better understood. It will connect related patient referrals and activities to provide a complete view of the patient’s secondary care. 

See more about National Patient Flow here:

TDHB in line with the District Health Board needed to provide an agreed, normalised, dataset to the Ministry of Health (MoH) team each month.

The Solution

The TDHB needed to establish a team working with business, data and systems architectures to deliver the dataset.  It needed to be available in line with MoH targets to allow reporting comparing the DHB and their ability to deliver successful patient journeys.

Prior to engaging with Datacom, the TDHB stakeholders had been challenged by the complexity of identifying, combining, normalising all the elements, needed to move the project forward. 

The Datacom Difference

Datacom Taranaki project manager Andrew Heal was engaged;

To help create a team with diverse skillsets covering TDHB booking and referring processes, patient data, and patient management systems.

Lead the team to isolate and address points of ambiguity, technical issues and to engage with other teams in the region, as well as the national MoH team.

Enable the project board to focus on the key issues to deliver a successful outcome, as these were often unclear.

Drive this diverse and often siloed team to successfully deliver the dataset from many different source systems, transform it to meet the MoH standards,

Ensure repeatability for monthly delivery with systems of records identified, change touchpoints identified so that future changes in the systems doesn’t break the monthly delivery, and embed this within the TDHB teams. 

The Results

The team delivered the second and third phases of the project to MoH standards on agreed timescales and budget.

Datacom provided a project manager with expertise in project delivery and an independent perspective to work alongside the subject matter experts from the clinical admissions team and system support teams in TDHB. 

The project team was then able to work on the multitude of elements involved, while the project manager worked with the TDHB Project Board, the Ministry of Health project team and other DHB remove ambiguity and address issues.  

The project consumed 1,300 hours of time from IT staff and 3,500 hours of SME time and required 830 hours of project manager time. 

Datacom’s involvement gave the project board clarity on the steps taken, decisions required and achievement of milestones. It released department manager time that had previously been needed to facilitate the process.

In reviewing the data requested by the MoH the project team was able to identify opportunities to improve out-patient booking efficiencies and admissions management.


Image: New Plymouth with Mt Taranaki, Andrew and Annemarie/ Creative Commons

“Successfully completing the NPF allowed the DHB to meet its obligations to the MoH for this important initiative. Having the Datacom Project Manager involved help keep a complex project moving and allowed the project team to focus on the data not the project process.”

Jenette Hucker, TDHB Electives & ACC Manager and Project Board member