Pathways to a healthier future for our tamariki

Critical funding from our generous supporters – Mercury and their customers and Adrian Tinling and his family - is helping Starship’s Clinical Pathways and Outcomes Programme team carry out important work to improve healthcare for ill and injured tamariki across Aotearoa New Zealand.  

Clinical pathways team

The Clinical Pathways and Outcomes team in action - their work often involves a whiteboard session that looks just like this! 

What is the Clinical Pathways and Outcomes Programme? 

Clinical pathways are tools that hospitals and health providers use to organise and plan healthcare from beginning to end, so that when a patient is diagnosed with a medical condition, the team knows how to get them treated and on the road to recovery as quickly as possible. For Starship’s Clinical Pathways and Outcomes team, the focus is to make sure our tamariki get equitable, world-class care and the best possible health outcomes no matter their ethnicity, location or circumstances. 

They’re looking at a huge array of services, treatment and diagnostic pathways at Starship – from treatment for liver disease through to diagnosis for autism spectrum disorder. 

“There’s so much complexity in the health system, so what we’re trying to do is create pathways through the system that really take a lot of that complexity out,” says Clinical Pathways and Outcomes Programme Manager Sarah Wilson. 

Clinical pathways team lead Sarah

Clinical Pathways and Outcomes Programme Manager Sarah Wilson 

“The goal is to look at whānau experience and outcomes and work collaboratively as a team and with whānau to improve that,” adds Clinical Pathway Developer, Rochelle Moss. 

Thanks to our generous supporters, the Clinical Pathways and Outcomes team has recently been able to re-design the otolaryngology (ORL) pathways. This is the medical specialty which focuses on disorders of the ear, nose and throat. 

“The ORL pathways project is a re-design of how we treat our patients across the region who have the most common ear, nose and throat conditions,” says Paediatric ORL Surgeon Dr Edward Toll.  

As Dr Craig McCaffer, another Paediatric ORL Surgeon involved in the re-design project, explains “The aim of the re-designed pathway is to get the same approach for every child. The way we go about that is by streamlining the referral and diagnostic process, getting the patient from start to finish more quickly.” 

All of this means tamariki can receive treatment for common ear, nose and throat conditions faster, which in turn, reduces negative impacts on sleep, quality of life and learning, while their whānau have a less stressful and smoother experience.   

Clinical pathways drs

Paediatric ORL Surgeons Dr Craig McCaffer (left) and Dr Edward Toll (right) 

Jimmy’s* story  

Jimmy was four when his mum began to notice that he wasn’t waking ‘full of beans’ like he normally would. And when he’d get sick, he’d get really sick. The cause - enlarged adenoids and infected tonsils.  

Jimmy’s mum was worried. “When I learnt more, I realised the impact it could have on concentration, irritability, and fatigue and that this was actually quite serious. The long-term effects could really harm him.” 

For many whānau tonsil and adenoid removal can be a really stressful experience. Often, they’re faced with long waits, extended time off work and school and a process that can be confusing and difficult to navigate. For Jimmy and his mum however, their experience at Starship was the opposite. 

Simple factors like being able to choose hospital appointment times that fell on weekend days and scheduling Jimmy’s surgery during the school holidays was a big help when navigating everyone’s busy schedules and meant less time away from work and school for the whānau. 

“What helped to achieve the positive outcomes for my son was the accessibility and flexibility. Everything was more whānau-centred,” Jimmy’s mum says. 

Now, Jimmy is the best version of himself again. He’s sleeping well, thriving at school and waking up ‘full of beans’ every day!  

Post-surgery, Jimmy’s mum became involved with the ORL pathways re-design project and was able to share their perspective and experience. Her feedback around what worked for her whānau has been invaluable for the Clinical Pathways and Outcomes team, helping them to pinpoint improvements that ensure Jimmy’s experience is the norm for all tamariki who need tonsil and adenoid removal.   

“What this particular project has shown is that you have to listen to whānau voice. And if you bring that together, you get a really good idea of how these pathways should work,” says Equity Lead Project Manager Rhonda Holloway (Ngāti Rangitihi).

Clinical pathways v2

Equity Lead Project Manager Rhonda Holloway (left) and Clinical Pathway Developer Rochelle Moss (right)

“What the funding enables us to do is take a really deep dive into how and why and what we’re doing and to make that function in the best possible way,” Sarah adds. 

Thanks to Mercury and their wonderful customers and Adrian Tinling and his family, the Clinical Pathways and Outcomes team can continue to carry out their important work across Starship Child Health services – work which will make a huge difference to ill and injured tamariki up and down the country.   

*Patient’s name has been changed for this story to protect his privacy.