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Report highlights variations in patient data capability in ICSs


Mark Say Managing Editor

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Integrated care systems are showing big variations in their ability to make effective use of patient data, according to a new report.

Understanding Patient Data, in collaboration with its hosts at the NHS Confederation and its ICS Network, has published a new report on the use of data within ICSs.

The research involved a series of interviews, carried out by White Tail Consulting, with 44 participants 11 ICSs from each region in England to understand their perspectives on how systems are currently using data and the relevant barriers and enablers.

It found that while some ICSs, or parts of them, have large analytical datasets containing information from a range of sources – including primary, acute, community and mental health NHS providers and local authority social care – other datasets are significantly less advanced. This creates the risk of unwarranted variations in access to data driven models of care for patients.

Other challenges raised by participants included difficulties balancing the demand for operational reporting with strategic data analytics, organisational culture and development of data skills, and recruitment and retention of staff.

Appetite for collaboration

Despite these challenges, there is great appetite for collaboration among systems and between systems and national data leaders and policymakers to drive improvements, understanding Patient Data says. With many examples of best practice evident across the country, there is an opportunity for peer learning and collaboration.

The report includes a series of recommendations, including that policy makers should support ICSs to engage with patients and members of the public on uses of data.

Nicola Hamilton, head of Understanding Patient Data, said: “Integrated care systems are important bodies with an under-recognised role when it comes to the use of health data.

“By drawing out the detail of what some of them are doing, their aspirations, and challenges, we hope to support them to work together to use health data in ways that enable them to fulfil their purposes as well as meet citizens’ expectations.”

The report comes two years after the Health and Care Act placed ICSs on statutory footing and with efforts underway to roll out a new Federated Data Platform across health and care organisations across England.

Understanding Patient Data provides information on how patient data is used to support policy makers. It is funded by Wellcome, the Medical Research Council, the National Institute for Health and Care Research and NHS England.


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