Scott Cunningham, PhD and Technical Consultant from the University of Dundee, Scotland, visited in Finland in November to talk about the development of quality registries in Scotland. We got an opportunity to interview him before the first national conference on health care quality registries at the National Institute for Health and Welfare.

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Why do we need disease specific quality registers in health care?

“We need disease specific quality health registers in health care to allow us to report and analyse data for the patients with conditions across the health care system.

It´s really important to capture that data so we can report back on prevalence of conditions and how well conditions are being monitored and controlled. We can then use that information to make improvements as we move forward.”

Who benefits from the information these registers can provide?

“Everybody involved with the health care service can benefit from systems like these. Ultimately the patients will get benefit because if there are proper reports made on the information collected, then they will benefit by improved services.

The health care team will hopefully benefit by having more information about their current practice and how they can perhaps target areas that require improvement. This is particularly important when you´re comparing regional areas, for example, where you might notice differences between quality levels of care.

Ultimately it will also impact the people who are funding the services. It´s important that they have the information that they need to target appropriate resources to the health care system to ultimately improve things for the benefit for the individual patients.”

What do we need to keep in mind in developing quality of care registering and recording systems?

“I think one of the most important things to consider is for systems like these are the quality and completeness of the data.

There are obviously certain things you want to report in times of performance indicators, so you want to make sure that the data you use to report these indicators is consistent and recorded similar way, recording systems are used properly and you have individual structured data to use to more effectively report information on the conditions you want to monitor.”

We are just starting to develop national quality of care registers in Finland; do you have any good advice for us?

“Don´t try to do everything all at once.

Identify key conditions, as you have done, and try to identify individual performance indicators that you want to monitor. Pick maybe 2-3 of those and try to do them very well.

Prove the concept and once people have actually become more familiar with how things will operate, they will buy in to it and then you can gradually expand the process over the course of time.”