A contact between a patient/client and an ambulatory care health unit (including outpatient and community health units) which results in a dated entry being made in the patient/client record.
Identifies service delivery at the patient level for mental health services (including consultation/liaison, mobile and outreach services).
A service contact can include either face-to-face, telephone or video link service delivery modes. Service contacts would either be with a client, carer or family member or another professional or mental health worker involved in providing care and do not include contacts of an administrative nature (e.g. telephone contact to schedule an appointment) except where a matter would need to be noted on a patient's record.
Service contacts may be differentiated from administrative and other types of contacts by the need to record data in the client record. However, there may be instances where notes are made in the client record that have not been prompted by a service contact with a patient/client (e.g. noting receipt of test results that require no further action). These instances would not be regarded as a service contact.
The proposed definition is not able to measure case complexity or level of resource usage with each service contact alone. This limitation also applies to the concept of occasions of service (in admitted patient care) and hospital separations. The National Health Data Committee also acknowledges that information about group sessions or activities that do not result in a dated entry being made in each individual participant's patient/client record is not currently covered by this metadata item.