A new research collaboration is seeking the help of aged care providers and technology companies to develop technical data specifications for the sector.

The Aged Care Data Compare project is a collaboration between Digital Health Cooperative Research Centre,  University of Queensland’s Centre for Health Services Research, the Bupa Health Foundation, and the Commonwealth Department of Health.

The two-year project, which began in June, aims to improve access and exchange of information used to measure the levels, quality and results of residential aged care services.

Project outcomes include developing a technical data specification for the healthcare data shared by residential aged care providers, and building a prototype data hub so providers can exchange data and benchmark the care they provide.

Project Lead Professor Len Gray from the Centre for Health Services Research at the University of Queensland said they were seeking volunteers from care providers and software manufacturers to join two working groups.

Professor Len Gray

“We want to find a solution that meets both of their needs. The problems they have to solve might be different but they want to get to the same place in the end,” Professor Gray told Australian Ageing Agenda.

Project to benefit providers

The project will map the data across the various systems currently used in the sector to an internationally recognised standard. It will also identify a panel of measures to allow benchmarking between providers, said Professor Gray, who will outline the role of volunteers in a webinar next week.

“Aged care providers want a better handle on information about their residents, from their mobility to their nutrition, their competence in various things and their needs – and they want to know how to deliver the best care.”

The current challenge is that everybody documents measures differently. “If Mrs Smith needs help with walking, one person might write down ‘needs help’ and another person might write, ‘OK with stick’,” Professor Gray said.

“Our project will look at how to standardise the way they record their residents’ information. Then they will be able to understand more about how well they are providing care within their own organisation, and they will also be able to make comparisons with other aged care providers, perhaps in an anonymised way.”

Dr Michael Costello, interim CEO of the Digital Health CRC, said the project would help pave the way for aged care providers to introduce a new era of continuous quality improvement.

Dr Michael Costello

“Through this project, we will have a prototype for how we can effectively share information across aged care providers that use different IT systems,” he said. 

“Right now, we can’t easily compare data about care, quality and performance when it comes to aged care, because different systems are being used all over the country.”  

Technology and data are key to managing and monitoring the long-term quality and provision of aged care, Dr Costello said.

Project airs launch webinar next week

The University of Queensland is hosting an interactive webinar on July 17 at 1pm AEST where stakeholders can ask questions.

Professor Gray will give an overview of the project and explain how aged care providers and technology vendors can get involved.

Register for webinar here and find out more about the project here.

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