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Can the NHS achieve efficiency savings by making smarter use of information?

The NHS cannot meet its goal to make billions of pounds in efficiency savings by performing successive small cuts across all budgets. To achieve its savings target, the NHS needs to use information more effectively to pinpoint areas of critical need while identifying where larger cost savings can be focused.

A substantial amount of data that could support the NHS in achieving efficiency savings is already regularly collected. The Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) data is a good example. However, this data is rarely combined with other datasets to allow effective comparisons across geographies, commissioners, providers or conditions. Nor is this data combined across multiple years to show the positive or negative impacts of change.

Experts from across the healthcare industry, ranging from life sciences research, healthcare commissioning and healthcare delivery, came together at a PA-hosted event to identify the key questions for stakeholders in the healthcare, life sciences and research industries.

Identifying key questions for healthcare providers and researchers

At the event, we identified over 100 key questions that are important for a range of healthcare and NHS stakeholders. For example:

  • Commissioners of NHS services would like answers to understand: how their commissioning compares to other commissioners’ adjusting for population, what the intervention costs are at specific stages of treatments, and in particular what the readmission rates of patients are within their region

  • Researchers are asking questions regarding the incidence and management of specific diseases and conditions nationwide to improve the methods and treatments available

  • The pharmaceutical industry is asking how it can improve the effectiveness of products by knowing the patient pathways being followed and the stages at which their medications are being prescribed

Making smarter use of data to find the right answers

These questions could be answered by the data already collected and available in the NHS, thereby contributing to significant efficiency savings. For example:

  • Analysis of the HES and other data sets allows healthcare commissioners to look at their commissioning compared to other commissioners, allowing unnecessary spending to be identified

  • The HES data allows the attendees at hospitals to be mapped, identifying catchment areas for hospitals. This could help hospitals identify the competition and areas where their reputation is too weak to attract patients

  • Researchers can use the data to identify where integrated and redesigned pathways might lead to major cost savings or quality improvements for patients with long term conditions.

PA is now answering many of these questions using data already captured by the NHS and actively working with NHS trusts to identify savings and areas to improve performance. This includes identifying how actual patient pathways map to theoretical pathways and the performance implications, and transforming the speed of data analysis so that answers come in real time, not delayed by days or even weeks.

To find out how we can help your healthcare organisation use data to make smarter decisions and allow the NHS to meet its savings target, please contact us now.

Catharine Berwick
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Chris Steel
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