Northland families welcome the birth of Plunket’s health app

Around 180 families in Northland are the first in the country to experience the digital future of Plunket’s ‘Well Child Tamariki Ora’ health checks.

Thirty-one Plunket frontline health professionals are using tablets equipped with a newly developed Plunket app for the first time, in the homes of New Zealand families from Dargaville to Kaitaia.

This is the pilot of the new electronic Plunket Health Record – or ePHR – which is being developed in partnership with Microsoft, Marker Metro and Koorb, to help Plunket improve children’s health outcomes by giving families a more effective service.

“We’re delighted to see the success of the Northland pilot, and how well it is being received by families,” said Plunket’s Chief Executive Jenny Prince. “The introduction of the ePHR is simply about a future where frontline Plunket staff access, store and receive children’s health records digitally rather than in paper files. Yet it has significant power to help us improve children’s health outcomes by connecting families more quickly with the services they need, and by reducing administration to allow nurses more time to focus on care.”

The objective of the Northland pilot was to confirm that the process of a nurse collecting and entering data about a baby into the system occurs accurately, and to gain insight into the challenges a nurse faced in using the new technology. It is an important step forward in the technology journey Plunket has embarked on, with its funders and partners. The success of the pilot means the charity can now progress the next stage of development, which includes putting in place the wider technology infrastructure needed to support a mobile fleet and developing an appropriate training suite for the nurses and other staff.

“While there is a long way to go before Plunket nurses are using the app across the country, the Northland pilot is an exciting and important step forward in Plunket’s technology journey to provide a stronger network of support for families,” said Jenny Prince.

Currently, Plunket nurses take a child’s health check paper record out on their home visits. By having instant access to data via the tablet, Plunket nurses and clinical leaders will be able see health information at a glance, which can help ensure children don’t slip through the cracks.

“It will mean that when a Plunket nurse is out on a home visit and they see another child in the family who needs a health referral, they can do that on the spot. Or if they get talking to a neighbouring family and find they’re not registered with Plunket, or they’ve missed an appointment, they can do it there and then,” said Plunket’s Jenny Prince.

Carla Taylor was the first Plunket nurse to use the ePHR with new mum Shara-Mei Jackson and her baby Aewa-Mei Jackson.

“On a normal home visiting day, about 50% of it probably was paperwork. Using the tablet makes life easier. I enjoy the speed and accessibility of the app and having all the information on the one tool. I especially enjoy being able to show new mothers their baby’s growth on the charts the app creates,” said Carla.

“From the graphs she can show me, I can immediately see her growth and development, so I can see she’s on track for her age and her growth,” said new mum Shara-Mei Jackson.

Plunket is among several health providers in New Zealand looking to take advantage of modern technologies so that health information can be stored securely, but in a way that’s accessible by the health provider when it’s needed. There is also strong interest for providers to link up with each other so health professionals can access vital health information instantly, and reducing the likelihood that people will ‘fall through the cracks’.

Plunket’s Jenny Prince says the ePHR is part of the charity’s long history of social innovation: “The ePHR is part of a broader Plunket strategy to innovate and use technology as a tool to help us improve the health and welfare of children and families. At a basic level it’s about giving parents the right support at the right time. At the time of launching it, PlunketLine was one of the first tele-health services in New Zealand and is a great example of how Plunket has harnessed technology to do this. Today it’s an established part of our service for families. We have further to go on our technology journey, but we’re on our way, thanks to our partners at Microsoft and all those who have donated to Plunket,” said Jenny Prince.

And she reassured families that this step into a digital future doesn’t mean sacrificing the past - families will still have the Well Child Tamariki Ora book from the Ministry of Health and Plunket nurses will still write in the book for their own record.


Notes to editors

  • Plunket nurses see 9 in 10 newborns in New Zealand, around 50,000 to 60,000 babies each year.
  • Plunket partners with the Ministry of Health to offer all families in New Zealand free ‘Well Child Tamariki Ora’ health checks for their children, starting with the first of seven ‘core checks’ when the baby is 2-6 weeks old, and the eighth and last is the B4School check at 4 years.
  • The ePHR is a bespoke application developed by Marker Metro and Koorb, supported by Microsoft to Plunket’s specification.
  • The ePHR pilot is a live testing phase of the development with 31 Plunket health professionals working with families from Dargaville to Kaitaia – 27 Plunket nurses, kaiawhina, and healthworkers, 3 support staff, and a clinical leader.
  • To date, Plunket nurses in Northland have used the app to record the health checks for 178 families.
  • The Northland pilot launched on 16 March, and covers the area from Dargaville to Kaitaia.
  • Plunket is now fundraising for the remaining $7million required to roll out the app nationwide.
  • When it is live nationally, around 600 Plunket frontline health staff will use the ePHR
  • Plunket frontline health professionals carry out and record over 1 million health checks for children each year.
  • The ePHR has been developed by Plunket in partnership with Microsoft, Windows app developer Marker Metro, and Microsoft Dynamics CRM specialist Koorb Consulting. Plunket engaged Koorb Consulting to build the ePHR system, and Marker Metro was contracted to design and build the app for use by nurses in the field.

Tags: 0 Comments Posted by Jen Riches on 28 August 2015

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