Ministry tightens mental health NGO information loop

The government wants to make it easier for the many private mental health organisations it funds, such as drug and alcohol clinics, to provide it with timely and accurate information.

The government wants to make it easier for the many private mental health organisations it funds, such as drug and alcohol clinics, to provide it with timely and accurate information.

The Ministry of Health has put feelers out for an information reporting system for the 220 non-government organisations which supply it with mental health services.

There isn’t any one specific application available to the small providers of mental health services at the moment, says NZ Health Information Service IS manager Mary-Lou Hoskins.

The ministry’s tender is seeking applications that small NGOs such as drug and alcohol dependency centres can use. Government bodies such as district health boards which also provide mental health services aren’t part of the tender.

All providers of mental health services are required to provide data which is stored in the ministry’s MHINC (mental health information national collection); the ministry has a mental heath data warehouse which draws on the MHINC and other data, subject to the health information privacy code.

Hoskins says there have been more than 20 responses so far to the ministry’s initial registration of interest, issued last month.

The next step is for those respondents to submit formal tenders. The aim is for the chosen system available to the NGOs from the middle of the year.

“It’s something the ministry has been keen to provide for a while. We did get to the stage of having a pilot, but it wasn’t suitable.”

Hoskins declined to name the system that was piloted and the ministry is keeping mum on the budget for the current project.

“NGOs comprise a third of New Zealand’s mental health expenditure — they’re a very important component.”

The registration of interest statement notes that the proposed system must be scalable at an acceptable cost, “with a minimal level of system administration and quality operational support at approximately 220 NGOs, which effectively means local development organisations will need to team up with an external organisation having a nationwide support capability”.

Functionality requirements include “searching, capturing and maintaining client, provider, user and mental health event information”, flexibility for upgrades and to maintain “ministry-supplied mappings for identified data fields”, and to be able to produce required reports.

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