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.

Tameside Hospital Plans to Reduce Length of Hospital Stays to Save Money

Tameside Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has been warned by Monitor to make significant changes in order to save money and improve its finances.

The independent regulator has found the Trust to be in ‘significant breach’ of its terms after its financial position deteriorated in the second quarter of 2010/11, leaving it with an estimated £1.4m deficit.

The Trust is currently taking steps to generate savings, with plans to cut the length of hospital stays due to new community-based services and daytime surgical facilities.

Although this may be appropriate in some cases, Trusts still need to ensure patients receive the right care, at the right time. Knowing when to discharge a patient is often a fine balance and can be a difficult decision for clinicians – made even more complicated by a variety of financial implications that they have to consider.

In this situation, having access to detailed financial information is vital. Through Ardentia’s Patient Level Costing solution, managers and clinicians can identify the costs associated with each patient’s care. Having this level of insight allows Trusts to calculate the costs of continuing to provide hospital care to a patient, and compare it with the readmission costs for a patient with a similar condition who may have been discharged too early.

Having as much data to work with allows managers to make more informed decisions – ultimately helping to improve care delivery and ensure a positive patient experience.

Scottish NHS Required to Make Savings of £300m

The NHS in Scotland has been told that it must make efficiency savings of over £300m, which will be ploughed back into frontline spending.

However, the chairman of the BMA in Scotland has warned that local GPs must be closely involved in decisions about cuts, in order to avoid compromising quality of care.

Scottish Health Minister Nicola Sturgeon launched the revised NHS Efficiency and Productivity Framework, which sets out how NHS boards will make efficiency savings. A target of 3% has been set for this financial year.

The Framework also highlights the need for innovative ways to remove waste, improve quality and streamline services. With this in mind, the question arises – how can Trusts generate these efficiency savings while ensuring that care does not suffer as a result?

Robust business intelligence tools like Ardentia’s Patient Level Costing (PLC) solution provide NHS managers and clinicians with the high quality data needed to identify areas of waste. Armed with detailed information about the costs incurred for each treatment, Trusts can start to drive out inefficiencies without compromising quality of care and patient experience.

Click here for more information about Ardentia’s PLC solution.

New ‘Pathfinders’ Revealed to Lead Commissioning Services Reform

The Worksop Guardian has reported on how Bassetlaw GPs are to become ‘pathfinders’ in the new Government reform, which will give them greater control over patient services.

They are one of 52 groups selected across the country to lead the commissioning services reform, and will work together to manage their local budgets and commission services for patients directly with other NHS and local authorities.

The move comes ahead of GP consortia taking on statutory responsibilities when the PCTs disband in April 2013.

Bassetlaw MP John Mann has welcomed the plans and said that giving GPs greater control will improve the overall patient experience. He believes that giving local GPs the responsibility of commissioning care will undoubtedly benefit healthcare, because they have a better understanding of the needs of patients living in the area.

Health bosses think that local decision-making will reduce unnecessary bureaucracy, which will lead to more effective outcomes for patients and the community as a whole.

Therefore, with the responsibility of NHS funds falling into the hands of Bassetlaw GPs earlier than expected, they need to make sure they are well-prepared for these changes. Having high-quality data on treatment costs and patient pathways will be key to ensure GPs make the right decision at the right time to improve patient experience and manage the budget effectively.

NHS Reforms to Go Ahead

The speculation is over – Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has announced that the Government will proceed with plans to shake up the NHS marking the biggest shift in power and accountability in its 62-year history.

The announcement was met with opposition from almost every part of the health service, including the Royal College of GPs, trade unions and the health think tank the King’s Fund.

Central to the reforms is the shift of £80bn of taxpayers’ money into the hands of England’s 35,000 family doctors. PCTs are already being “clustered” together in order to save 45% in management costs, with their powers being transferred to the 52 emerging GP consortia.

Andrew Lansley believes that there is scope and necessity for the savings and hopes it will help improve the healthcare service for patients. However, the opposition fears that the reforms will come at a price, with Labour’s spokesman on health, John Healey, criticising the timing of the reorganisation when “health is under pressure and budgets are tight”.

To drive the NHS forward and ensure its survival throughout these radical changes, new GP consortia must have tighter control over budgets and work with high quality data to guide the decision-making process. This is where Business Intelligence solutions can play a vital role and help NHS managers to spend the NHS budget in the most effective way, enhancing care delivery and improving patient experience.

You can read the full article on the Guardian.

NHS Could Face £6bn a Year Shortfall, Says Leading Think-Tank

With last week’s Comprehensive Spending Review outlining the budget available to each Government department up until 2014-2015, there has been much speculation about how the NHS will be affected by such announcements.

And as difficult decisions are made in the public sector, the NHS is undoubtedly under pressure to deliver significant efficiency savings and further squeeze the budget.

Despite Chancellor George Osborne announcing a 0.4% budget increase over the next four years, an article in The Telegraph has reported how a leading health policy think-tank has predicted the NHS may still face a £6bn a year shortfall.

John Appleby, King’s Fund chief economist, believes that the increase in spending will be wiped out by rising drug costs and medical technology, leaving significant gaps in funding.

Senior managers need to have tighter control of the NHS budget, ensuring waste is driven out and money is spent in the right areas. This is where business intelligence solutions can provide the patient-level insight that is needed to enable better decision-making in the NHS.

Ardentia’s Patient Level Costing software allows Trusts to review exactly how much the treatment of any one patient costs, drilling right down to the minutes spent in surgery or with a specialist clinician. It is this kind of high-quality data that will be critical in identifying areas where efficiencies can be made to plug the funding gap and further enhance patient experience.

You can read the full article here.

Ardentia Updates Theatre Performance Module

With operating theatres becoming a major cost element in the delivery of acute care and average running costs estimated at £4000 per session, Ardentia has introduced an updated version of its Theatre Performance Module.

The solution gives NHS managers and clinicians a powerful and flexible means of monitoring and reporting on operating theatre sessions, enabling them to identify specific areas where efficiency can be improved and theatre resources maximised.

A 2010 study by the NHS Confederation showed that typically only 47% of active theatre hours constituted actual procedure time, with late starts, early finishes and turnaround time accounting for over a third (34%) of the total used time in operating theatres.

Ardentia’s Theatre Performance Module is designed to help managers and clinicians better manage operating theatre utilisation, and identify specific areas for improving efficiency and patient care.

The solution is built on Ardentia’s proven HealthWare performance management solution and allows staff to access the high quality data needed to support robust financial planning and management.

You can read about Ardentia’s updated Theatre Performance Module on eHealth News.

Barts: An Expensive Lesson Learnt on the Importance of High Quality Data

E Health Insider reports on the progress being made by Barts in addressing its 18-week wait Referral to Treatment backlog, which currently stands at 23,000 – the London NHS Trust admits that it could “fail for the delivery of 18 weeks in 2009-10”.

The Trust finance board in September reported that the inability to report on 18-week waits will result in its main commissioner, NHS Tower Hamlets, imposing contract penalties of up to £400,000 per month.

The Trust has acknowledged that poor data quality contributed to the backlog, but says that new systems and processes to manage patients and an 18-week patient tracking list have since been introduced, backed by weekly review by each speciality within the hospital.

The financial stick Barts faces shows just how central high quality data is to the effective running of Trust operations. This is not about hitting Government targets. Bart’s case highlights the fundamental importance of high quality data on so many levels:

It’s about having the accurate data on where patients are in their pathways of care, to be able to ensure timely access to healthcare services, and to offer the highest quality care to patients

It’s about having a clear understanding of resources used to be able to effectively meet demand for healthcare services, and to plan appropriately for future requirements.

It’s about having an accurate financial understanding of the true cost of care delivery at a patient level, to ensure resources are used to maximum effect and to optimise Trust performance.