NACCHO Health Information Strategic Plan

Information, Communications and Technology and Information Management (ICT/IM)

The demands for evidence-based information are increasing exponentially within the Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation Sector. This presents challenges for data collection, analysis and presentation of findings.

During 2014-2015, perceptions of data within the Sector visibly changed. A previous reluctance over issues of data sharing and privacy shifted as solutions to these became accepted, to a focus on the strategic use and value of data to protect and grow Services.

At the same time, the costs of data collection and management dropped dramatically as server computers and expensive software licences and maintenance contracts are being replaced with pay-as-you-go for “Software As A Service” applications and cloud storage.

Population health data, service delivery performance data and patient records took on new dimensions. New opportunities opened up to improve patient care, preventative programme engagement, workforce development and for the provision of powerful evidence to assist in responding to competition from outside the Sector to win additional funding and resources. As always, information was vital for communications within the ACCHO, with Boards, Members and communities.

NACCHO responded to these changing conditions and opportunities in two ways:

1) Review of NACCHO’s ICT Capability
In 2014-2015 a rapid review was conducted of the NACCHO Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Infrastructure and Capability to develop a plan to increase functionality, reduce software licence costs and reduce hardware and software maintenance costs. There will be a change to is to change the ICT infrastructure in 2015-2016 to provide a more cost-effective and flexible platform. The new platform will enable use of more powerful software for data management, data analysis, presentation of information and web-based communications. It will also make it easier and more versatile for interaction with Members and stakeholders through multimedia channels and enable NACCHO to provide web-based data analysis and presentation services to Members in collaboration with Affiliates, and regional ACCHOs.

2) NACCHO’s Health Information Strategic Plan
The review of ICT Infrastructure and Capability contributed to a Health Information Strategic Plan that focuses on Information Management (IM) to enable timely access to information for the Secretariat, ACCHOs, Regional bodies and Affiliates. NACCHO recognised that significant innovations in IM were also underway in some Regional bodies and Affiliates. Accordingly, in May 2015 NACCHO convened an ICT/IM Forum to understand the current capabilities and anticipated requirements for information products and to explore opportunities for collaboration so that data and applications could be built once and used many times. These fact-finding discussions helped inform the Strategic Plan.

Members of the NACCHO Board of Directors and Affiliate CEOs were briefed on 12 May 2015 and discussed the direction and proposed major elements of the Health Information Strategic Plan. The direction for the Health Information Strategic Plan was approved at the Board Meeting on 13 May 2015.

Underpinning the Health Information Strategic Plan is the development of the NACCHO Evidence Base. This will hold data with three different levels of accessibility namely:

a) public data that has been published, usually on the internet e.g. from websites, summarised ABS Census data and administrative boundaries;
b) controlled and audited access data e.g. OSR, nKPI, data for NACCHO administered programmes and national initiatives e.g. QUMAX, FASD, CQI, and;
c) NACCHO quarantined data with access denied by the Chief Executive Officer used for developing research, policy, advocacy and Board initiated-studies.

A set of information utilities (Tools) is to be acquired or built to analyse and display the data including statistical, geospatial analysis, business intelligence and graphics packages. The Tools will be made available to ACCHOs, Regional Bodies and Affiliates. Use of the Tools will require training and as such will be of use only within organisations with appropriately skilled staff or with time to learn the procedures.

In acknowledgement of current workloads and budgets, a number of Member Services requested that the Health Information Strategic Plan provide a way in which Data Analysis and Reporting options are presented in a useable way. The development phase of the Strategic Plan has addressed this by adding provision for information utilities to perform analyses and create maps and graphics on-demand, at the push of a button (or two).

Target users are CEO’s, Practice Managers and Programme Managers in ACCHO’s to help prepare material for management meetings, Board and community reports/consultations and newsletters, websites, applications for funding and for CQI PDSA cycles. NACCHO has taken on this challenge from the Health Information Strategic Plan and will work on this user-friendly approach that will be rolled out in 2015-2016.

The Health Information Strategic Plan is to be considered by the NACCHO Board of Directors at their next meeting in May 2016.