Capturing a more timely picture of problem alcohol and drug treatment

Researcher: Dr Suzi Lyons, HRB National Health Information Systems

New HRB online system to collect data on treatments for drug and alcohol misuse in Ireland is making data collection faster and more efficient. This is good for research and planning.
In Summary

When a person goes for treatment for problem drug or alcohol use in Ireland, relevant, anonymous details about their treatment are included in The National Drug Treatment Reporting System (NDTRS).

The HRB manages the database, which provides important information on trends about problem alcohol and other drug use and treatment. A new a web-based system has been developed to enable staff at treatment centres to enter information into the database online, rather than using paper forms. This has made the reporting process more efficient and is improving the timeliness and quality of the data being collected.

The Problem

The National Drug Treatment Reporting System (NDTRS) gathers data from around Ireland about treatments given for problem alcohol and other drug use. Previously, around 40% of treatment episodes were returned to the NDTRS in printed, hard copy forms. This information needed to be entered into the database on-site at the HRB offices, which is costly and time-consuming.

The Project

The HRB is rolling out a web-based entry system, called LINK, so addiction centres can input their treatment data directly into the NDTRS rather than returning a hard copy form.  This is in order to make data gathering faster and to safeguard accuracy. The system, which has inbuilt validations to improve accuracy of reporting, started to be phased in during 2016. By the end of 2017, around three-fifths of addiction centres will be using the NDTRS online system.

The Outcomes

The change to online reporting to the NDTRS is leading to faster gathering of data on treatments for problem alcohol and drug use in Ireland.

More addiction centres are using the online reporting system to feed data into the NDTRS, which will mean improved data accuracy thanks to inbuilt validation systems.

The HRB has substantially reduced its paper and printing use in its management of the NDTRS.

Dr Suzi Lyons, Senior Researcher with HRB National Health Information Systems says:

'It is important to have timely and accurate data on trends in treatment for problem alcohol and drug use. It also feeds into research, planning and strategy development, both in Ireland and in Europe. The online system means this information is more readily available and we have reduced the time and paper involved in gathering the data'.