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Fewer children are missing critical health checks thanks to an innovative online tool and coordination service from Pinnacle Midland Health Network.
Child health providers across Waikato, and now Gisborne, can access the National Child Health Information Platform (NCHIP), giving them a shared view of a child's progress towards their 29 health milestones between 0-6 years of age.
These health milestones include immunisations, oral health assessments, well child checks, hearing and vision checks, and B4 School checks. There is no clinical information held by the system - only data on the child, family contact details, providers involved, whether each milestone has been completed or not, and the dates.
Pinnacle Midlands Health Network CEO, John Macaskill Smith, said: "Early childhood health services are being delivered and tracked in a coordinated way, creating better efficiencies across the entire health system and ensuring that no child falls between the cracks.
"This is a key part of ensuring that we deliver every kid, every health service they are entitled to at the right time."
"We have some really great child health services, but the game changing aspect of NCHIP is the ability to join these services together so they can share information and be aware of what others are doing. We sought to build a platform that brings this transparency."
Should a child miss one of their checks, the system can alert their GP or relevant health provider to follow up. If their medical centre has lost contact with the child, providers can call Pinnacle Midlands Health Network's Child and Youth Health Coordination Service to help locate them. The coordination service can also access support from the ministries of education and social development to help locate these 'missing' children, reconnecting them with health services.
Health providers associated with a child are able to access NCHIP and check how the child is tracking against the various milestones, and identify other providers involved with that child.
Macaskill-Smith says NCHIP and the coordination service have been running successfully in Waikato for more than 16 months, and are already improving access to child health services.
"Within five months of launching NCHIP, we identified over 6,000 Waikato children previously unknown to the DHB's oral health service.
There were also over 300 newborns not enrolled with a medical centre; over 60 newborns missing their metabolic screening results, and another 70 missing from the hearing screening register. We have been able to connect these families with the relevant health provider, ensuring each of these children have the opportunity to receive the checks and health services to which they are entitled."
Health information for all Waikato children up to the age of six years is now on the system, with over 32,300 children now registered on NCHIP.
The development and trialling of the NCHIP system was funded by Pinnacle Midlands Health Network; Ministry of Health/National Health IT Board; Hauora Tairawhiti; Waikato, Lakes and Taranaki DHBs.
Following the successful roll out in Gisborne it will be extended into Taranaki and Lakes in March this year. Following that it will be available for nationwide uptake.
The plan is to also expand NCHIP to include health milestones for all youth up to 18 years of age.
Photo: Pinnacle Midlands Health Network's Tina McKinlay (standing) from Gisborne shows local lead maternity carer Lizzie Tamepo (seated) around the online National Child Health Information Platform.