Commission launches New Zealand Atlas of Healthcare Variation

29 Jun 2012 | Health Quality Intelligence

The New Zealand Atlas of Healthcare Variation is a new tool from the Health Quality & Safety Commission for clinicians and users and providers of health services. It shows variation between the health care received by people in different geographical regions. The purpose of the Atlas is to stimulate questions and debate about why there is variation. The debate may then lead to improvements in our health care services.

The Commission’s Director of Health Quality Evaluation, Richard Hamblin, says the Atlas displays information in easy-to-use maps, graphs and tables and is organised into ‘domains’ of related measures.

“The first two domains, which go live today, are 10 maternity indicators and five life expectancy and other demographic indicators.

“A third domain – operation rates for five surgical procedures – will follow in July. A further three domains, covering the management of cardiovascular disease, gout and polypharmacy among older people will go live later in the year.”

Mr Hamblin says the domains and measures contained in the Atlas will increase over time, with new information added as it is developed.

“Commentary for each measure will be provided. These will be developed with clinical experts and will set out why each measure matters and highlight the questions that might be prompted when variation exists.”

He says the Atlas is a tool to raise questions and promote debate, and is not a ranking or league table.

“The Atlas is about prompting questions about why variation exists rather than directly making judgements about what the ‘ideal’ result or level of activity may be. This debate may then lead to improvements in health care services.

“The subject areas in the Atlas are chosen by a group of clinical experts and consumers, based on criteria regarding the importance of the area and the likelihood there will be unexplained variation in services.

“Persistent unwarranted variation in health care affects equity of access. The Atlas will highlight areas where people have less access to services than people in other regions, and stimulate questions and debate about the health care needed by people in those areas.

“We believe the Atlas will support health care provision that meets the real needs of all people throughout the country.”

Click here to go to the Atlas of Healthcare Variation

Last updated 30/06/2012