Proof of concept ensures independent primary care providers can use comparative data

Pressures in primary care, mental health and community services are inextricably linked to the current challenges in secondary care caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. General practice is seeing record numbers of appointments – a combination of people now coming forward for care, who stayed away in the last two years and the 6 million patients who are on secondary care waiting lists for treatment but still need care and support in the meantime. Add to this an ageing population, vaccinations and more than 1.4 million people waiting for mental health treatment, general practice is under more pressure than ever.
 
The independent sector has been working with the NHS to help create more capacity and absorb some of those pressures and, while there is no register of private sector GPs, they will inevitably have a role to play in helping to tackle the care backlog. Some patients, for example, choose a mix of primary care from the NHS and the private sector.
 
Comparison is key to ensuring commitment to quality improvement
 
The independent sector works hard to ensure that it is constantly improving and raising the bar in terms of performance. While all organisations in this sector are, like the NHS, monitored by the CQC to check standards and drive quality improvement independent primary care providers have not had access to a suitable benchmark to support this process.  Access to and sharing of data is central to enable this, something which has been challenging to organise possibly due to sensitivities around competitiveness.
 
To create a baseline of standards that can be used to assure quality and drive constant improvement, the Independent Doctors Federation in collaboration with the Independent Healthcare Provider Network and supported by the CQC, commissioned CHKS to create a tool that can be used to compare performance between similar providers.
 
CHKS identified a set of metrics to help develop a ‘proof of concept’ data and analysis tool to support data collection from independent primary care providers. The tools enables benchmarking of performance against other similar providers for a range of indicators of safety and care.
 
Although the project is in its infancy, the initial results have shown that there is scope to develop the approach further and the proof of concept will be developed into an online tool, similar to the CHKS iCompare tool used in hospitals throughout the UK. The CQC was a key driver and stakeholder in this project and hopes to see the tool taken to a level where the submitted data can be turned in to quality insights that can help to improve the consistency in quality in healthcare.Pressures in primary care, mental health and community services are inextricably linked to the current challenges in secondary care caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. General practice is seeing record numbers of appointments – a combination of people now coming forward for care, who stayed away in the last two years and the 6 million patients who are on secondary care waiting lists for treatment but still need care and support in the meantime. Add to this an ageing population, vaccinations and more than 1.4 million people waiting for mental health treatment, general practice is under more pressure than ever.
 

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