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Blog: What data can do for integration

Blog: What data can do for integration

While business intelligence has long been fundamental to the NHS, the advent of sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) presents a tangible opportunity to deliver a step change in the role of business intelligence in real-time patient care
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While business intelligence has long been fundamental to the NHS, the advent of sustainability and transformation plans (STPs) presents a tangible opportunity to deliver a step change in the role of business intelligence in real-time patient care.

The importance of good data in the NHS is unquestionable. Traditionally, however, there has been a tendency to look at data in organisational silos, with limited sharing of information between health and social care. As the integration agenda moves ahead, we’re starting to see an exciting shift in the way data is being accessed and analysed. The recent move by NHS England to require health and care systems to produce STPs has presented an opportunity to open up discussion and improve collaboration across localities.

NHS England has stated that STPs should “show how local services will evolve and become sustainable over the next five years – ultimately delivering the Five Year Forward View vision”.1 Working in geographic footprints, which transcend clinical commissioning group (CCG) areas makes joint working all the more important. Rather than being able to focus on their own immediate commissioning areas, clinicians, local authorities and advisors need to develop a detailed understanding of their area as a whole.

We are already working in partnership with other specialist organisations to provide integrated health and social care data for county councils who are preparing their STPs, and we will shortly begin work on delivering the STP service redesign work for Greater Nottingham Health and Care Partners. These initiatives require us to bring together complex data sets from primary and secondary care, community health, social care and mental health services, which can be interrogated and interpreted in meaningful ways to support the long-term integrated planning being expected of these health and care systems. As a result, those tasked with planning the delivery of health and social care services over the next five years have access to a complete picture of demographics, behaviours, interventions, costs and outcomes across their geographic footprint, leaving them well placed to take a holistic view of care needs and provision.

In our view, the advent of STPs is to be welcomed, not only in providing renewed momentum for the integration of health and social care, but in opening up the possibilities for the future of business intelligence services. With access to a holistic view of patient cohorts through the sharing of pseudonomysed data, our next step is to move business intelligence from a historic “check and confirm” service to one that supports clinical decisions in real time, giving GPs greater access to alternative care pathways and reducing hospital admittance. That, for business intelligence, would be the jewel in the crown.

Dr Simon Freeman, chief operating officer, NHS Arden & GEM Commissioning Support Unit.



1 NHS England. Sustainability and Transformation Plans. https://www.england.nhs.uk/ourwork/futurenhs/deliver-forward-view/stp/ 

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