Taking action on acute demand pressures in DHBs

DHBs are facing increasingly complex challenges. Over the last year, TAS has been focused on addressing one of these key challenges - acute demand. The pressures caused by acute demand, a term used to refer to any unplanned admission to hospital are likely to increase, posing a significant threat to our health system.

Members of the Insights and Analytics Group and corporate communications.

Members of the Insights and Analytics Group and corporate communications.


TAS interviewed a range of DHB leaders to determine their perspectives on acute demand and the impact it has on the health system. These interviews raised several themes which TAS subsequently explored in data.

In June 2019, TAS produced the report Addressing Acute Demand Pressures, championed by the Health System Performance-Insights (HSP-I) programme, to provide a collective narrative for acute demand. The data insights in the report aim to provide a better understanding of the factors affecting acute demand pressures on the public health system.

DHBs reported in their interviews with TAS the increasing Emergency Department volumes and increasing pressure on resources. These reported challenges were reinforced by TAS data analysis, which proved that the numbers of acute admissions to hospital are growing faster than the rate of population growth.

Due to the different characteristics of each DHB, they are faced with different pressures and opportunities to address acute demand. TAS identified how DHBs are currently responding and the opportunities to improve management of acutely unwell people. TAS’ insights show that almost one in three of all hospital admissions is considered potentially avoidable bydelivering more planned care in the community.

The health insights gained from the report will benefit all DHBs, despite their differences. With increased clarity and understanding, the DHBs are better positioned to work together, and from a new perspective, to overcome these challenges and ultimately affect positive change in our communities.

“High quality relationships led to a trusted partnership that has produced some actionable insights for individual health systems and across NZ. I am confident that this baseline work will be used to derive further insights from the comprehensive data set that TAS has access to. I am delighted with the quality of work that we were able to deliver together.”

DR Andy Phillips, Chair of Health System Performance Insights Programme Governance Group, Hawke’s Bay DHB