New Body to Lead NHS IT

An article on E-Health Insider has highlighted the importance of informatics and using high quality data to guide organisations through the efficiency drive.

The Department of Health has announced plans to create a new body to support health informatics in England, after months of meetings with NHS IT staff.

The meetings were held to discuss ideas on what support is needed in the future in order to improve the flow of informatics throughout the NHS, whilst encouraging and assisting in the modernisation of the service.

A spokesman for the DoH said: “Information is central to delivering the government’s vision for patients being at the heart of high quality healthcare and we are currently considering the best way to provide the informatics support that will enable this.”

Read the full article here.

NHS Trusts Must Make Bigger Savings

Foundation trusts regulator Monitor has warned hospitals that they will need to make up to 75 per cent greater efficiency savings than originally planned due to higher inflation and tougher financial penalties incurred for incidents such as emergency re-admissions following surgery.

NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson had previously told hospitals that they needed to find 4 per cent savings each year for the next five years in order to maintain services, taking into account the rising costs of medical treatments, increased demand and the smaller rises in NHS budget.

Monitor has now told foundation trust applicants that they must find savings in the region of 6-7 per cent in order to achieve foundation trust status by 2014. The Department of Health said Monitor’s assessments are challenging but “wants all hospitals to be able to meet Monitor’s standards and show that they can provide sustainable, high quality and efficient services for their patients.”

In order to achieve these savings, clinicians and managers need to have a solution in place that enables them to track and remove inefficiencies and areas of waste.

Ardentia’s Activity Flow Analytics (AFA) allows finance managers to access information on data such as outpatient attendance, trends, patient location and treatment requirements. With this information readily available, Trusts are in a better position to find ways of saving money efficiently; ensuring resources are being used effectively whilst delivering high standards of care.

You can read the full article on Healthcare Today here

Trusts Miss Pseudonymisation Target

An article on E-Health Insider reports that fewer than half of NHS Trusts have succeeded in pseudonymising patient records under the Department of Health’s Pseudonymisation Implementation Project (PIP).

The government had set targets for all NHS Trusts to improve patient data security by the end of March 2011, but only 186 out of 396 acute, mental health, ambulance and primary care trusts have reported successful pseudonymisation under the scheme.

Ardentia’s Pseudonymisation solution provides the software that automatically pseudonymises patient data, complying with all confidentiality requirements as stated by the NHS Code of Practice.

The solution generates pseudonyms to remove key identifiers that may associate a treatment pathway with a particular individual. Pseudonymised data can then be used legally for secondary business use including research, teaching, auditing, and management activities, without compromising patient confidentiality.

Will NHS Reforms Affect Patient Care?

The BBC has reported about how a group of influential MPs have questioned the planned shake-up of the NHS, warning that it could compromise patient care.

The Public Accounts Committee has said that implementing significant changes while seeking £20bn in efficiency savings may damage front-line services.

Committee chairman Margaret Hodge said: “The Department of Health acknowledged the risks associated with this radical shake-up of the NHS.

“Whilst the reforms could complement the imperative of achieving £20bn efficiency gains by 2014/15, the reorganisation might also distract those responsible for making the savings while safeguarding standards of patient care.”

Ardentia’s solutions are developed with patient care in mind, providing NHS managers with the tools needed to identify where improvements can be made to enhance care delivery and improve patient experience.

To find out more about our solutions click here.

The Future of Informatics in the NHS

E-Health Insider has reported on how the Department of Health is working on a plan to keep informatics services operational during NHS reforms.

Health authorities and primary care trusts have been asked to detail their current IT systems and informatics capabilities following announcements made in the ‘Liberating the NHS’ white paper.

In his letter to NHS chief executives on “making the transition” to the new reforms, NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson commented: “Information and information technology are essential components to deliver the ambitions outlined in the white paper. A strong informatics capability is necessary to deliver on our intent.”

An E-Health Insider special report recently looked at how the BI market is responding to the NHS reforms, and its value to providers as they start to move into an increasingly competitive market.

Ardentia’s business intelligence tools allow managers and clinicians to drill down to patient-level and discover the exact costs involved in each treatment. This kind of financial insight is vital to be able to drive out inefficiencies and deliver savings.

Patient Care From a Pathway Perspective

Ardentia’s CEO Tom Mulhern recently took part in a Health Service Journal webinar to discuss how commissioning care from a pathway perspective can help to reduce clinical variation, generate cost savings and deliver the best outcomes.

Joining him in the discussion was David Arrowsmith, Head of Information at Derbyshire County PCT, who carried out a pilot study on pathways for cataracts and angina with the help of Ardentia.

With mounting pressure from the Department of Health to contribute to the £20bn savings required across the NHS, without compromising quality of care, both providers and commissioners are increasingly looking at patient care from a pathway perspective.

By linking data on patient events from different sources along with their associated costs, healthcare organisations can generate a costed care pathway, helping to define and localise best practice care journeys and reduce clinical variation.

The webinar explores this area in great depth, and discusses whether commissioning based on pathways is the way of the future, what organisations should consider when defining pathways, and the subsequent impact on providers.

You can watch the free webinar on HSJ by clicking here.

Outcomes Framework to Improve Patient Care

The NHS is to scrap its target measures in favour of a new Outcomes Framework following the release of the White Paper and the consultation ‘Transparency in outcomes- a framework for the NHS’.

Traditionally the NHS has focused on process-driven targets such as waiting times, making health outcomes less of a priority. This new framework seems to reflect how the NHS is moving toward patient-centred incentives by prioritising the outcome of healthcare rather than the targets.

There will be particular focus on tackling five key areas where the NHS is expected to deliver improved outcomes for patients. These include preventing premature deaths, enhancing the lives of those with long-term illnesses, aiding recovery from ill health, ensuring patients have a positive experience of care and making sure people are treated in a safe environment and protected from undue harm.

In order to successfully adhere to this framework, the NHS will need to deliver improved healthcare without significantly increasing expenditure. And to demonstrate how they are meeting these national outcome measures, it’s important that Trusts have access to robust data on patient costings and pathways, reinforcing the need for effective Business Intelligence solutions.

To read the official Department of Health’s press release click here. You can also find out more about it on Health Insurance & Protection.

Government Spending Plans Will Test NHS, Says Report

The NHS and social services in England will be tested to the limit by Government spending plans, according to a report by the Commons Health Select Committee.

The MPs say that the plans assume efficiency savings on a scale never before seen in the NHS or in other countries, and call for the Department of Health to deliver a “credible plan” on where the efficiency gains will be made.

NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson has estimated the health service needs to make efficiency savings worth between £15bn and £20bn over the next four years.

Chairman of the Health Select Committee and former Conservative health secretary Stephen Dorrell said: “There is no precedent for efficiency gains on this scale in the history of the NHS, nor has any precedent yet been found of any healthcare system anywhere in the world doing anything similar.”

Therefore with this in mind, how can Trusts hope to deliver savings on such a large scale? Once again, having financial clarity is key in enabling managers and clinicians to identify areas where efficiency can be improved and waste driven out. Business Intelligence tools, like Ardentia’s Patient Level Costing, provide Trusts with a means of achieving this and allow managers to review the treatment costs of each patient, including the minutes spent in surgery or with a clinician.

Drilling right down to patient-level gives Trusts the insight needed to generate long-term savings, as well as the best chance of meeting the Government’s efficiency targets.

You can read the full article here.

Drastic Efficiency Programme Revealed

According to an article on Pulse, GPs are to be told that they must reduce unscheduled hospital admissions by a fifth by the end of 2013 as a result of a series of Government targets to curb the number of people in hospital each year.

Ministers have formulated a drastic efficiency programme that requires GPs to deliver a 20% reduction in unscheduled admissions, as well as a 10% cut in A&E attendance, while working with hospitals to reduce length of stay by 25%.

The Department of Health believes that these targets can be met through reforms to the Payment by Results tariffs due to be announced next month and use of a new ‘clinical dashboard’ to identify patients needing preventative care.

When GPs are under pressure to curb unscheduled hospital attendances, it’s important they have access to high quality data about admissions and patient pathways so they can look at more effective ways to deliver care.

It’s believed that the NHS spends around £589m per year on cardiac, angina, CHF and COPD related admissions for patients – many of which are admitted three or more times a year and whose expenses can represent up to 25% of hospital costs.

However, by using solutions like Ardentia’s Activity Flow Analytics, GPs and clinicians can identify these patients who are being frequently readmitted due to long-term conditions. With this level of detail, they can then start to consider how to deliver more preventative care outside a hospital setting, enabling patients to better manage their condition and avoid long stays in hospital.

Only then, will GPs be able to meet the targets outlined in the efficiency programme, while maintaining the high quality care that patients expect.

New Approach for Measuring Death Rates

E-Health Insider has reported on how the NHS is to introduce a new standardised method for measuring death rates from April 2011.

The review group set up to examine the Hospital Standardised Mortality Ratio (HSMR) in the wake of the scandal at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust said last week that the HSMR should be replaced.

Plans have been published for a Summary Hospital-Level Mortality Indicator (SHMI) that the Department of Health says will be subject to rigorous independent testing before its introduction next year.

The SHMI will calculate the deaths of admitted patients in all care settings except specialist hospitals, and will include deaths occurring up to 30 days after discharge.

However, the Department of Health has said that the new method should not be used as a “standalone indication of quality or to rank hospitals in crude league tables”.

At Ardentia, we also believe there are other factors that can be used to measure a hospital’s performance, such as service quality and overall efficiencies. With Ardentia’s HealthWare Performance Manager, Trusts can work alongside Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to define exactly what needs to be achieved, ensuring high performance levels are maintained to enhance patient experience.

By taking into consideration other performance indicators, Trusts have a more comprehensive picture of where adjustments need to be made to improve care delivery.