NHS Digital and Private Healthcare Information Network (PHIN) to create one system of collection and reporting for all acute care.
A programme to ensure private healthcare data is recorded in the same way as NHS data in England has been launched, following a request from the minister for health and social care to improve co-operation to improve patient safety.
The Acute Data Alignment Programme (ADAPt) will integrate data on privately funded healthcare into NHS systems and standards to address concerns about the lack of transparency of quality in private care. It also hopes to ensure that records are complete when patients have received care from both NHS and private health providers.
The programme is being led by NHS Digital and the Private Healthcare Information Network (PHIN), an independent, government mandated source of information about private healthcare to help patients make better decisions about their care provider.
Years of work
“PHIN has been working toward a single common standard for data collection and reporting for several years,” said chief executive Matt James. “PHIN has called publicly for this to go further – one system of collection and reporting for all acute care delivered in England.”
He said that it is key that care is the same whether privately or publicly funded: “We estimate that 95% of privately funded acute care is delivered to British residents who are NHS patients in respect of their wider care needs.”
James highlighted that the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has already made a commitment to regulating independent providers and NHS providers to the same standards: most NHS hospitals treat some private patients, most independent hospitals treat some NHS patients and most consultants working privately also work in the NHS.
“It simply doesn’t make sense in the longer term to have two separate systems for data collection and reporting,” said James.
In addition, the jailing of rogue surgeon Ian Paterson, who saw patients in independent and NHS hospitals, as well as a call last year from The Royal College of Surgeons to improve transparency and availability of data on private care, has created an imperative for better co-operation to improve patient safety.
Plan of action
The programme will oversee the redirection of the flow of data that mirrors the Commissioning Data Set that becomes the HES Admitted Patient Care data for privately funded hospital 'episodes' from PHIN to NHS Digital. The ADAPt team expects to handle around 750,000 episodes each year.
"It is realistic to expect the flow of data to change in 12-24 months, allowing for consultation and communication and assuming that we hit no major obstacles," James said.
He said that, while the data that PHIN already collects about private healthcare is well aligned to NHS standards, and private hospital operators (including NHS hospitals treating private patients) are already legally obliged by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to send PHIN that data, challenges remain.
"We must make sure that changes in process promote the pace of progress, not inhibit it; that data protection remains assured; that all providers can access and use the relevant NHS information systems (which have previously only been used by independent providers when performing NHS-funded care); that we collectively maintain or improve processes for data quality assurance; that the process reduces rather than increases the data burden on providers; and that the data remains accessible to and usable by PHIN so that we can perform our mandated role for the CMA."
The ADAPt programme board includes representation from NHS England (NHSE), NHS Improvement (NHSI), and the Care Quality Commission (CQC), each of which will "potentially benefit from access to whole-consultant-practice cross-sector data and the resulting use of that data to inform the public and patients on overall standards of care," James said.
A public consultation setting out a proposed approach, timescale and objectives will be launched later this year.
Image by Cyril Vallee, CC BY-SA 2.0 through Wikimedia