Common clinical wisdom relies on quality data

Taken together I have worked as a Psychiatric Nurse and Nurse Practitioner for almost thirty years, including many different roles and services in different countries.

As a Nurse, like people in other disciplines, I have used information in many ways in all these different roles and services. Information from assessments, plans, rating scales, audits and perhaps most importantly, from service users themselves to mention but a few. Information can be seen as the true lifeblood of clinical roles.

However, over time I have come to see information not as an end in itself, but part of a spectrum of understanding and evidence in mental health and addictions. A spectrum which starts with data and moves on through information to knowledge and clinical wisdom. Clinical wisdom is often hard to identify but it certainly does exist and it is something which we need to encourage and actively develop through workforce development.

Our current situation in NZ, similar to other countries, is one where data is plentiful, information less plentiful, knowledge is limited and clinical wisdom is uncommon.

The work we are doing through key performance indicators and outcome work is about developing better information, to ensure we have expanded knowledge and ultimately common clinical wisdom.

The work we are doing through PRIMHD (our national data base for mental health and addictions) is about improving our data so that we have better information. The work we are doing through key performance indicators and outcome work is about developing better information, to ensure we have expanded knowledge and ultimately common clinical wisdom.

We have a long way to go with this work  “now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” Winston Churchill.