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Awhina - research, innovation & knowledge

Awhina - research, innovation & knowledge

What is Awhina?

Awhina’s Research, Innovation and Knowledge team is responsible for building the capability and capacity to undertake research and be innovative in health care, supporting continuous improvement in patient service and outcomes.

Value: Better, Best, BrilliantAmong many activities the Research, Innovation and Knowledge team undertake, three key focus areas are:

  1. developing and maintaining a Research, Innovation and Knowledge Centre database
  2. supporting a clinical electronic decision support system (CeDSS)
  3. coordinating the annual Health Excellence Awards

 Awhina's logo is inspired by the embracing ocean waters and brings together diverse knowledge, services and people.  The symbolism also resonates with the Maori three baskets of knowledge stories.  Awhina is the third carved stone sitting alongside the whatukura, representing the modern and universal aspiration to contribute to and improve the general wellness of humankind.

1. Research, Innovation and Knowledge Centre database

The Research and Knowledge Centre team offers support and training in the design, conduct and analysis of clinical trials, observational studies and audit / evaluation projects.  This supportive environment enables Waitemata DHB clinicians to deliver high quality, successful, timely and responsive project outcomes.

The National Ethics Advisory Committee (NEAC) guidelines require all research or audit related activity to be registered and approved by the host institution (e.g. Waitemata DHB).  The Research and Knowledge Centre team maintain a database for clinicians to register all research and audit projects.

The team has also developed a website - www.awhinahealthcampus.co.nz with a step-by-step guide on how to register a project; how to access ethics, funding, statistical or budgeting advice; how to undertake cultural and community consultation; and provide clinicians with additional tools and templates, for example legal templates for clinical trial agreements and indemnities.

Awhina website
Awhina website - www.awhinahealthcampus.co.nz

More than 1300 projects have been recorded in the database, with 135 projects registered in the first half of 2013.  This is a significant (34%) increase in registrations over the previous six month period (101 projects registered).  On average, 40% of the projects registered are interventional clinical trials, 24% are observational research, and 36% are audit / evaluation.

Calendar Year

# Active Research Projects













The database enables staff to identify projects currently being undertaken across the DHB, learn from the project’s findings, and avoid unnecessary duplication of research and audit activity.  A regular update of project activity is provided by the Research, Innovation and Knowledge team to the Clinical Governance Board (CGB) and to the Clinical Directors.

Reseach & Innovation Knowledge database
Research & Innovation Knowledge database

2. Clinical e-Decision Support (CeDSS)

CeDSS is a web-based tool developed to assist DHB health professionals make timely clinical decisions based on current best practice.  This resource aims to support clinicians in the decision making process, reduce the number of errors made, and enhance the quality of patient care.

CeDSS web-based tool
CeDSS web-based tool on Waitemata DHB intranet

The importance of enhancing evidence-based practice has been highlighted by studies showing that up to 30% of clinical investigations and treatments provide little or no gain in patient health.  Conversely, studies show consistent failure in providing effective treatments in prevalent, life-threatening conditions such as acute coronary syndromes, heart failure, stroke, diabetes, and kidney failure.  US data suggest that only 50% of patients receive recommended preventive care with regards to common causes of major illness[1]

The concept of CeDSS is internationally recognised and endorsed as an effective way of helping to narrow the gap between best clinical practice and routine care and that such tools may realise much larger dividends in improved patient outcomes than relying solely on traditional systems such as sentinel event reporting and risk registers:

All hospital departments should develop and implement readily accessible, evidence-based clinical practice guidelines, protocols and other forms of decision guidance covering their most commonly encountered conditions, procedures, and treatments.[Footnote: same reference as above Scott et al.][1].

CeDSS is a dynamic resourceThe information and content of each site is developed by clinicians. Currently there are nine services with active sites using the platform:

  • Cardiology
  • Diabetes & Endocrinology
  • Paediatrics
  • Palliative Care
  • Transfusion Medicine
  • Pain Services
  • Acute and General Medicine
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Resident medical officer (RMO) handbook

A further five sites are in development: Emergency Medicine; Radiology; Clinical Skills; Gastroenterology; Women’s Health, plus a “teaching module” to be added to the Paediatrics site to bring all their department resources together in one place.

Example of a 'Tip of the Week'
Example of a 'Tip of the Week' from Acute and General Medicine site

Since the start of 2013, eight new sites have been launched or are in development and this resource is becoming increasingly important and useful for staff with site visits jumping from just over 11,000 to over 15,000 for the first half of 2013.

A key future development will be moving the platform to mobile devices as WiFi becomes available in the hospitals, and Awhina is also working to make the platform available to primary care clinicians.

  1. Scott IA, Poole PJ, Jayathissa S. Improving quality and safety of hospital care: a reappraisal and an agenda for clinically relevant reform. Internal Med J 2008;38(1):44-55.

3. Health Excellence Awards

The Waitemata 'better, best brilliant' Health Excellence Awards are an annual event to showcase and recognise research, projects and innovations which have improved health services for Waitemata residents.  Entries are either as an oral or poster presentation in categories of: Research & Technology; Clinical Care; Integrated Care; Compassionate Patient Support; Workforce Development.

The Health Excellence awards' aims are to:

  • acknowledge work done by people working in the district to improve the quality of service and to improve health gain
  • recognise achievements of individuals, teams, wards, departments, primary care providers and GPs participating in quality improvement projects
  • improve co-operation and understanding between primary care providers and Waitemata DHB
  • contribute to the quality and research focus of Waitemata DHB
  • provide a public showcase for these projects

A number of the winners of the 2012 Health Excellence Awards are showcased in this quality account.