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    A recent article in the New Zealand Herald declared there are fears potentially hundreds of at-risk Kiwi children are being lost in the fitness system. This means they could be missing out on important universal fitness checks, including vaccinations, which can have long-term poor fitness outcome implications.

    Data gaps in young children’s health information can have considerable implications for their future health. These gaps can arise from children missing their medical appointments, families moving to a different health care provider or data being scattered between different provider systems, making it difficult to access.

    Early Years of a Child are Important for Health:

    Health

    The early years of a child’s life are crucial for their lifelong fitness and development, and children in New Zealand ages 0-6 years old are entitled to many universal fitness checks to track and monitor development. This is done using 30 universal child health milestones including but not limited to metabolic screening, well child checks, immunizations, oral robustness checks, vision and hearing and early childhood education enrolment.

    However, these milestones are tracked by many different organizations and information sharing between different providers is primarily relationship-based. This means information is often held in silos making it impossible to recognize patterns and identify those children who are falling between the “system” cracks.

    Five Ways to Address Data Gaps In Child:

    Here we explore five ways addressing data gaps in child well being using a single child fitness platform will support better outcomes for children in New Zealand:

    Every Child is Encountered:

    No child is left behind Joining up child fitness information that is currently scattered in silos means data can be shared in real-time which enables the identification of patterns for those children who are lost in the system and missing out on many universal fitness checks. 

    Inequalities preventable by reasonable means are unfair, and in fitness are indicators of distributional differences in the well being status of the population. In all countries, including New Zealand, people experience different social circumstances that result in avoidable differences in health, well-being and length of life. The health system can assist in creating a fairer society and ensuring a fairer distribution of good robustness. However, this requires a commitment to health equity and evidence-informed action by people at all levels within the health system , including those responsible for policy, resource allocation, service provision and measurement. 

    A rich data set can meaningfully be leveraged in order to identify gaps in care in real-time. For example by identifying and connecting with those who have missed vaccination deadlines or milestone appointments.

    Early intervention:

    A comprehensive record for each child means fitness service providers can access a holistic view of a child’s well being. This allows clinicians seeing a child in a hospital or outpatient setting to review information about a child’s fitness milestones e.g. their immunization status. Having this complete data set enables the early identification of warning signs, meaning steps can be carried out early to intervene and prevent or mitigate harm. Research in the US has shown that early intervention is critical because as children’s brains develop further, the less effective health interventions become.

    Helping address health inequality:

    Automatically enrolling children into a single healthiness data platform via the Maternity File or National Health Index means services can better reach and support vulnerable groups, to enable access to and uptake of the full package of universal health services.

    Almost all countries in the world suffer from pervasive health inequalities, with poor
    people dying younger and enduring more years of diminished health. In 2010, as part
    of the Marmot Review, an economic analysis of fitness inequities in the United
    Kingdom examined the costs imposed by fitness inequalities

    A single child fitness platform also means children whose families move geographically within a jurisdiction, have their information follow them; helping child healthcare providers to identify children, track and monitor milestone progress.

    Better coordination:

    Better care Having a single, rich child fitness record, which is updated automatically and regularly, avoids duplication of effort and ensures relevant information at key transition points is shared between providers. Much clinician time is spent searching for information across different systems or providers, and it may even be the case that the information doesn’t exist. One centralized system provides frontline staff with more efficient access to information, enabling them to focus their time on delivering the best care possible.

    Transparency:

    Greater transparency and improved prioritization Greater transparency and enhanced information sharing between healthcare providers allows for improved prioritization of care and increased primary care enrolment rates and access to services. Greater transparency of data also enables funding, planning, and service managers to identify trends and patterns to understand what’s working well to address inequities, improve existing services and adapt in order to develop new targeted initiatives.

    The Aim of NCHIP:

    Closing the data gap with Orion Health’s National Child Health Information Platform Orion Health’s National Child Health Information Platform (NCHIP) tracks each child’s progress through their fitness milestones, by collating information from various providers. NCHIP plays a crucial role in closing data gaps by ensuring automatic enrollment of all children into the platform, encouraging regional consistency in what data is captured.

    NCHIP collates all of the child’s data into one longitudinal record which follows each child regardless of their location in New Zealand. This single record ensures children stay up to date with their checks, mitigating the onset of any data gaps and allowing providers to get a clear view of a child’s entire history. This will enable providers to identify any early indicators of conditions and intervene, potentially improving the child’s quality of life.

    Automatically enrolling children into NCHIP via the Maternity File or National Health Index (NHI) feed makes it easier to contact those children who do not have a GP or those who have been missing milestone checks. This means that no child is left behind, especially children coming from vulnerable families.

    Interested in learning more?

    National Child Health Information Platform

    Contact an expert
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