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Recording a patient's ethnicity correctly can be harder than it looks. The following FAQs explain how to enter multiple ethnicities, what ethnicity data comes to Karo and how to enter a 'non-standard' ethnicity into your PMS.

1. Does it matter where I record ethnicity in the three possible fields in Medtech?

From a PHO register processing perspective, it doesn't matter which of the three ethnicity fields you use to record a patient's ethnicity.

From a patient perspective, it may matter to them, so you need to be sensitive to that.

From a practice perspective, if you wish to run queries by ethnicity, it is easier if you put the priority ethnicity in the first ethnicity. Then you can just do one query on the first ethnicity.

There is a prioritisation standard that we are currently required to use for PHO Performance Programme reports.  This specifies the order in which ethnicities are considered if a patient selects more than one ethnicity.  The prioritisation order is:

  • Maori (21)
  • Samoan (31)
  • Cook Island Maori (32)
  • Tongan (33)
  • Niuean (34)
  • Tokelauan (35)
  • Fijian (36)
  • Other Pacific Island (37)
  • Pacific Island not further defined (30)
  • South East Asian (41)
  • Chinese (42)
  • Indian (43)
  • Other Asian (44)
  • Asian not further defined (40)
  • Middle Eastern (51)
  • Latin American/Hispanic (52)
  • African (53)
  • Other (54)
  • NZ European/Pakeha (11)
  • Other European (12)
  • European not further defined (10)
  • Unknown (99) 

2. What ethnicity code is sent to Karo/MoH in the age/sex register export?

When ethnicity is sent to the PHO, it is always sent as a two digit number:

  • Where a valid NZ Stats 2 digit code has been entered at the practice, that is what is exported.
  • Where a non-standard code has been entered with a valid 'Unload Ref' (see below for details), the 'Unload Ref' is what is sent.
  • Where a non-standard code has been entered without a valid 'Unload Ref', those patients are unloaded as '99 Unknown'. 

This means that, using PHO data, the most refined ethnicity analysis Karo can do is to the two digit level. For example, in the 'Other' category, the best we can do would be:

  • Middle Eastern
  • Latin American/Hispanic
  • African
  • Other

3. What if we want to code people to a more detailed level than the NZ Statistics two digit code (non-standard ethnicities)?

It is possible to code people to a more detailed level than the NZ Statistics two digit code. However, there are two things we recommend you do:

  • Set up an 'Unload Reference'

It is essential that during the set-up of the non-standard ethnicity, you correctly fill in the Unload Ref to match the two digit code that the person would be part of. For example, Australian Aboriginal should be set up with the Unload Ref of 37, which equates to 'Other Pacific Peoples'. See example below. If you do this, whenever that person's information is unloaded (Imms, PHO export etc) it will be unloaded as 37 which is a valid two digit ethnicity code!

  • Choose the NZ Statistics code

What code should I use to set up a non-standard ethnicity? I would strongly recommend that you try and identify the full NZ Stats code for the ethnicity in question. Using this example, the NZ Stats code for Australian Aboriginal is 37112, so that is the code you should use (see below for example). The reason for this is so that you can still easily extract people by group, using queries. For example this person will be included if you run a query for 'anyone with ethnicity starting with 3' ie all Pacific people on your database.




The Statistics NZ site that explains ethnicity coding is:

Ethnicity - Statistics New Zealand

The files with the full lists of ethnicity coding are on the right hand side of the screen and are downloadable.

Or try using their code finder:

Classification Code Finder - Statistics New Zealand