New generation clinical information systems use cutting-edge technology by collecting data at its source allowing clinicians to focus on service delivery enhancing clinical outcomes for clients whilst providing enriched data for evidence based service management decisions, provide an abundant supply of data for research purposes and establish undeniable evidence of the importance for the existence of the service to funding bodies.
STARTTS is a torture and trauma treatment and rehabilitation service in Sydney, Australia that has provided services to over 48,000 survivors of torture and trauma since 1988. STARTTS has taken the initiative to implement such a client information system.
A specifications document for a clinical information system was developed in 2013 at STARTTS after a series of consultation meetings with important stakeholders from the perspective of multidisciplinary service providers, senior management, internal researchers and IT. The specifications document is vital to allow for the selection of an appropriate vendor to develop such a system.
The implementation of this system even with its bells and whistles is bound to lead to some form of resistance if the change is not well managed. STARTTS has addressed this by ensuring ongoing testing and consultation with end users.
This system has been piloted and used by a group of 22 test users since November 2014 and is being incrementally rolled out across the organisation to approximately 100 users in 8 different service locations.
This process has allowed STARTTS to develop a system that assists clinicians in making better decisions for their clients, management to make better decisions for the service, researchers to establish evident trends and it supports the agency’s fundraising efforts as it makes it difficult for funding bodies to ignore obvious evidence of the importance of the existence of the service.
The client information system at STARTTS enables optimised service delivery from the moment a client is referred with a waitlist prioritisation system alarming the service when a client has exceeded their recommended waiting time.
Information is also amassed pertaining to both the client’s attributes as well as approaches and techniques used by clinicians in each episode of intervention. The clinician is recommended pathways to combat triggers such as suicidal ideation and domestic violence.
Trends of symptomatology between clients with similar demographics are established and the evaluation of interventions and their impact on those symptoms is supported.
Statistical reports can also be provided to attract and retain funding ensuring the survival of STARTTS as a torture and trauma service.
Client information systems vary due to different service needs but the value of developing situationally appropriate data collection systems to ensure the survival and thriving of torture and trauma services is universal.
Funding & No Conflicts Declaration
The aforementioned project was funded through internal organisational funding and I report no conflicts of interest.