By Lauren MacDougall, Senior Advisor, IM/IT, Nova Scotia Health Authority
Nova Scotia Health Authority’s (NSHA) Community Health Teams (CHTs) offer free wellness programs and services in communities in the greater Halifax area. These teams focus on the promotion of health and wellness by supporting individuals and families to build knowledge, confidence and skills to make healthier lifestyle choices and prevent and manage risk factors that are common across chronic conditions.
CHTs also support Nova Scotians to navigate community, government and health care systems. One component of the CHT is wellness navigation supports. Clients meet with a CHT Wellness Navigator who works with them to prioritize their needs and identify barriers to change (i.e. finances, transportation, child care, limited social supports, etc.). This information is entered into a shared electronic tool (e.g. Microsoft Office® SharePoint tool called InfoPath) that all four CHTs access, including staff at the IWK Health Centre and NSHA.
“It is important to evaluate the effectiveness of community programs and services to support quality care and improved health outcomes for Nova Scotians.” – Shannon Ryan Carson Director, Chronic Disease and Wellness Nova Scotia Health Authority
Information is analyzed through this solution, using Business Intelligence technology that mines data from the various data sources to help understand the contextual and experiential needs of individuals and communities. This innovative solution was developed in partnership with NSHA’s Information Management and Technology (IM/IT) team. This technology pulls data from various sources (e.g. shared electronic tools, registration, booking, web-based tools, health risk screening tool) to analyze and present data in a manner that helps inform CHT program and service needs.
To better understand the needs of the communities they serve, the CHTs seek input and feedback from community/citizens/participants/stakeholders and others through ongoing engagement activities. The technology solution is used to capture and analyze this data to identify trends and measure client satisfaction, health outcomes and behaviour change. This information is valuable in guiding future programs and services and allows for continuous quality improvement. “It is important to evaluate the effectiveness of our community programs and services to support quality care and improved health outcomes for Nova Scotians. The IT solution enables us to better manage our work based on needs, use health care resources efficiently and prioritize community-based health services and programing,” says Shannon Ryan Carson, Director, Chronic Disease and Wellness for NSHA.
An example of measuring health outcomes is seen in a CHT physical activity program for people with chronic conditions and low physical activity levels. Through data analytics provided via Business Intelligence technology, the CHT was able to better understand the needs of the population in the community. The CHT partnered with a local community recreation centre to develop and offer physical activity programming closer to home that minimized barriers to access and supports improved client outcomes as a result of their participation in this program.
Integrated community-based health requires innovative informatics solutions. Innovation is one of NSHA’s core organizational values and one of the ways to realize a more sustainable health care system and improve patient outcomes by leveraging technology to capture and use data (informatics) throughout the health care continuum.
More information about developing informatics strategies and solutions in primary health care is available here. More information about NSHA’s Community Health Teams is available here. Questions about this article can be directed to Shannon.RyanCarson@nshealth.ca.