In response to Roy Lilley – yes, we need to make better use of the data and information we alreadyIn a recent post health policy analyst, writer and broadcaster Roy Lilley on NHSManagers.net said being ‘open-minded about innovative technologies and data analysis can give us the answer to nine basic questions which, since 1948 have been too difficult to answer’.

The nine questions are straightforward enough. Who gets ill? What makes them ill? Why? Can we stop it? How did we try to make them better? Did it work? What did it cost? Was there a good outcome? Do we want to do it again?

He is of course right. Most of these questions can be answered through data and in many instances the data and information is available. However, it is being underused and we have not made good enough use of the information we have. By contrast, there has been huge investment in IT programmes and IT and information staff, but more than that there has been a reduced discipline in the way information is defined, collected and stored. This means the quality of the data (the building blocks of useful information) is probably worse now than it was 20 years ago.

So how can we use data to answer these questions? You can find out how we think this can be done here on E-Health Insider.

The challenge for the NHS is that although we have the data and information to answer most of Roy’s nine questions it takes time to access and interpret the data. You could argue that we lack the skills and the people in numbers to do this.

In addition, the NHS tends to focus too much on selected pieces of information (e.g. mortality measures, target waiting times etc.) rather than using information to plan and deliver better healthcare along the lines suggested by Roy. This is probably due in part to the fragmentation of the data (and responsibility for them) between public health and primary and secondary care as well as the separate function of financial information.

The care.data programme intends to provide a complete longitudinal patient record of all contacts with any part of the NHS which could address many of the questions listed on an individual basis and, if aggregated (under appropriate information governance rules) to provide a background to address population based questions. While information governance is clearly important, some of the current rules (or possibly how they are applied) might appear to obstruct benefits that would arise from such shared use.

This means that in many respects we have the answers to these questions, we are simply thwarted by administrative, financial and resource constraints.
Jason Harries, Managing Director, Capita Health Insightn a recent post health policy analyst, writer and broadcaster Roy Lilley on NHSManagers.net said being ‘open-minded about innovative technologies and data analysis can give us the answer to nine basic questions which, since 1948 have been too difficult to answer’.

The nine questions are straightforward enough. Who gets ill? What makes them ill? Why? Can we stop it? How did we try to make them better? Did it work? What did it cost? Was there a good outcome? Do we want to do it again?

He is of course right. Most of these questions can be answered through data and in many instances the data and information is available. However, it is being underused and we have not made good enough use of the information we have. By contrast, there has been huge investment in IT programmes and IT and information staff, but more than that there has been a reduced discipline in the way information is defined, collected and stored. This means the quality of the data (the building blocks of useful information) is probably worse now than it was 20 years ago.

So how can we use data to answer these questions? You can find out how we think this can be done here on E-Health Insider.

The challenge for the NHS is that although we have the data and information to answer most of Roy’s nine questions it takes time to access and interpret the data. You could argue that we lack the skills and the people in numbers to do this.

In addition, the NHS tends to focus too much on selected pieces of information (e.g. mortality measures, target waiting times etc.) rather than using information to plan and deliver better healthcare along the lines suggested by Roy. This is probably due in part to the fragmentation of the data (and responsibility for them) between public health and primary and secondary care as well as the separate function of financial information.

The care.data programme intends to provide a complete longitudinal patient record of all contacts with any part of the NHS which could address many of the questions listed on an individual basis and, if aggregated (under appropriate information governance rules) to provide a background to address population based questions. While information governance is clearly important, some of the current rules (or possibly how they are applied) might appear to obstruct benefits that would arise from such shared use.

This means that in many respects we have the answers to these questions, we are simply thwarted by administrative, financial and resource constraints.
Jason Harries, Managing Director, Capita Health InsightIn a recent post health policy analyst, writer and broadcaster Roy Lilley on NHSManagers.net said being ‘open-minded about innovative technologies and data analysis can give us the answer to nine basic questions which, since 1948 have been too difficult to answer’.
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