Short Communication

Developing a mobile data collection tool to manage a dispersed mental health workforce

AUTHORS

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Sarah Maddox1
Masters in Clinical and Public Health Aspects of Addiction, Kings College London, Evaluation Manager *

Donna M Y Read2 Research Associate

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Hazel E Dalton3

David A Perkins4 Director

Nicholas N Powell5

AFFILIATIONS

1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health, University of Newcastle, Bloomfield Campus, PO Box 8043, Orange East, NSW 2800, Australia

ACCEPTED: 28 January 2020


early abstract:

Context: The Rural Adversity Mental Health Program (RAMHP) connects people who need mental health assistance in rural and remote New South Wales (NSW), Australia with appropriate services and resources. In 2016, RAMHP underwent a comprehensive reorientation to meet new State and Federal priorities. A full assessment of program data collection methods for management, monitoring and evaluation was undertaken. Reliable data was needed to ensure program fidelity and to assess program performance.

Issues: The review indicated that existing data collection methods provided limited and unreliable information, were inconvenient for RAMHP Coordinators to use and unsuited to their itinerant role. A mobile collection tool (app) was developed to address RAMHP activity data needs. A design and implementation process was followed to optimise data collection and to ensure the successful use of the app by Coordinators.

Lessons Learned:
The early planning investment was worthwhile, the app was successfully adopted by the Coordinators and a much improved data collection capability was achieved. Moreover, data capture increased, while errors decreased. Data are more reliable, specific, timely and informative and are used for strategic and operational planning and to demonstrate program performance.