Big data key to improving home care living assistance


By Amy Sarcevic
Wednesday, 08 April, 2020


Big data key to improving home care living assistance

Experts from the University of Auckland have been tirelessly analysing big data, to help the New Zealand Ministry of Health and District Health Boards (DHBs) compile a new funding model, for home care living assistance.

The recommendation: a bulk funding model which will offer the DHBs flexibility in service provision, while still preserving jobs.

Until now, more than half of New Zealand’s 20 DHBs have been operating on a fee-for-service model of funding. This model has not been flexible enough to respond to the rapidly changing COVID-19 crisis; putting clients and workers at undue risk.

Older people with complex medical conditions who are resident in their homes and receiving home care living assistance are already at high risk of catching COVID-19. However, this is compounded for people who rely on daily assistance from care workers that are visiting multiple clients.

To minimise the risk, there was a clear need to adapt home care living assistance arrangements, while still meeting clients’ needs.

To upgrade the model, the university’s Business School analysed complex datasets, captured by the Ministry of Health over the last two years. This translated to millions of rows of data.

Dr Paul Geertsema from Accounting and Finance at the Business School stepped in to provide his expertise in this process.

He loaded the data into one of his own software packages and developed code to extract the relevant information for each DHB provider. This included data on monthly pay, number of hours and nature of work (ie, household management versus personal care).

The data was then crunched by Professor Rouse, to produce figures from April 2019 through to February 2020. The figures revealed how much each service provider contract had cost, month by month.

In turn, this allowed each DHB to estimate the cost of bulk funding required for the months ahead and advise the Ministry of Health accordingly.

Professor Rouse said, “Both Paul and I were delighted to donate our expertise and time to help during this crisis in such a practical way.

“Without this approach, services would discontinue for older people at a time that they need it the most. We are pleased that we were able to contribute to a project of national importance and assist the health sector in managing its response to the Covid-19 outbreak.”

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/jacoblund

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