Department of Health Information Strategy

Title of driver: An information revolution: consultation on proposals

Source: Department of Health

Link to main document

Publication format: Consultation (closes 14th Jan 2011)

Date of publication: October 2010

Summary of driver: A consultative information strategy for NHS England which examines the information needed for patients the public; for professionals, for improved outcomes and for autonomy, accountability and democratic legitimacy. Responses to consultation required by 14 January 2011.

Primary audience: All NHS organisations in England

Impact on library policy/practice: Key references are beloiw. Important that all library services contribute to their Trust’s response to the Consultation. Take particular note of chapter 4 on the information needs of professionals.

High quality health and care services depend on good information. The right person having the right information at the right time can make all the difference to the experience of a patient, service user or carer. Good information also enables care professionals to make the process of care safer and more efficient. Information is a health and care service in its own right: it must be freely available to all who need it.
Good information is also the basis for genuine shared decision-making: ‘no decision about me, without me’. We all know the difference between being informed by a service and being left in the dark, and we all know which we prefer. We also all know the experience of receiving volumes of inconsistent or poorly organised information, which can confuse as much as inform.
Information needs to be accessible to all, relevant and well-structured. At present, many people who use our health and care services do not get the information they need and are entitled to expect as part of the care process. Also, we sometimes fail to meet the information needs of our clinicians and care professionals. There are, however, a number of health and care services today where patients, service users and carers are being well-informed and supported to make decisions effectively – we want to build on these successes and on the good practice that already exists.
We need an information revolution to ensure that what is currently seen as good practice becomes the norm. We must not lose sight of the primary purpose of information in the health and care system: to ensure that every patient and service user receives high quality care. ”

“KNOWLEDGE” mentioned in the following sections:

supports clinicians and other care professionals to give the highest quality care, compare their performance with others, identify gaps in provision and develop their knowledge;

supports researchers to advance medical and scientific knowledge

The outer circle (above) shows how data from the patient or service user’s care record, leads to high quality information that gives people real knowledge and choice. The inner circle shows how giving patients or service users control of the data held within their record benefits them, as well as those providing their care. This is discussed in more detail in chapter two.

researchers (confidentially or in anonymous form), to play a part in building up the knowledge that leads to better health outcomes for themselves and for others in society.

The care of the future will, increasingly, be structured around a conversation between the patient or service user and the professional, either through face-to-face contact or remotely, such as through the care record. This will be a genuine dialogue in which each brings an important perspective to bear: the care professional brings knowledge about conditions and treatment options; the patient or service user brings individual needs, protected rights, values, preferences and personal circumstances. The principles, values and rights that underpin this approach are set out in the NHS Constitution

People are more likely to engage appropriately with care professionals and receive the care they want and need. Good support, training and education – backed by relevant, accessible information and support – are the basis for improvements of this kind. The QIPP22 long-term conditions programme is already working with local health communities to ensure patients have access to information and knowledge to help them manage their conditions and avoid inappropriate hospital admissions

Research is vital in providing the new knowledge needed to improve health and care outcomes and reduce inequalities. When resources are under pressure, research can identify new ways of preventing, diagnosing, treating and managing disease. Research is essential to increasing quality and productivity of the NHS and social care services and supports growth in the economy. Outcomes will improve most rapidly when clinicians and care professionals are engaged so that creativity, research participation and professionalism are allowed to flourish

Electronic care records and the wealth of structured data within them are potentially rich resources for applied research – for example, by making aggregated, anonymised data available to universities and other authorised researchers. There is also great potential to build new knowledge that will improve health outcomes and to identify new areas for research. The Government is considering how to provide a high quality research data service that will harness this potential.

“EVIDENCE” mentioned in the following sections:

the need for high quality evidence – from clinical audit, staff feedback, research and other sources- to make shared decision-making a reality

Further detail on our information, evaluation and evidence strategy for public health will be set out in the Public Health White Paper due later in 2010.

A Quality Account is an annual report to the public from providers of NHS healthcare about the quality and outcomes of their services. It allows managers, clinicians and staff to demonstrate their commitment to continuous, evidence-based quality improvement. The first Quality Accounts have been published, covering providers of acute NHS services. Following the evaluation of the current pilots, we will consider extending them to other sectors. We are exploring how this approach could be applied to providers of care and support services.

The use of evidence
4.6 In order to grasp the opportunities offered by the information revolution, clinicians and care professionals need to be able to access the best evidence (including international evidence) of outcomes, interventions and risks. Evidence needs to be user-friendly, up-to-date and available at the point of care, to inform discussions with patients and service users. Evidence is increasingly available in many forms, such as decision support, diagnostic interpretation, alerts such as those relating to drug doses and interactions and evaluation of therapeutic options. Individual professionals, teams and organisations need to be supported to access information of this kind, which can make all the difference in ensuring safety and effective outcomes.

4.7 Clinical and other staff need to use data to help improve the services they deliver and address inequalities, particularly in the outcomes of care. As the information strategy develops, it will need to take account of existing good practice in developing and using quality indicators as the bedrock of robust quality measurement. Such indicators should address key aspects of patient pathways including, where appropriate, looking at how efficiently services are being delivered. It will also be important to build on the Indicators for Quality Improvement library and other resources held by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (the Information Centre), by regional Quality Observatories, by other commercial data providers and by the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE).

NHS Evidence is an on-line portal provided by the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) that empowers staff with national and international best evidence and best practice information. The evidence is quality assured and made available both in its original form and through guidelines, pathways, tools and other resources. As NHS Evidence is expanded and developed all NHS staff, and others, will have free access to authoritative clinical and non-clinical evidence and best practice – available to support discussions and decisions at the point of care – as well as informing strategic planning and commissioning. It is an important addition to commercially provided data services (which are often subscription-based and aimed at particular specialist audiences). We intend to continue expanding and improving this service.

Q25: As a clinician or care professional, how easy is it for you to find the evidence you need to offer the best possible care and advice? What could be done better?
Q26: Clinicians, practitioners, care professionals, managers and other service provider staff will be expected to record more data and evidence electronically. How can this be facilitated and encouraged? What will be the benefits for staff and what would encourage staff to reap these benefits?

We see the evidence of the transformative power of digital technology all around us. To take just one example, the extraordinary growth of social networking websites in recent years is altering how people interact and sustain relationships, and in ways that were not foreseen, even by the pioneers of the sector. While health and care services have made great strides in adapting new technology to improve outcomes for service users, there is widespread consensus that there is scope to go much further

Case studies / Local service profile examples mapping to this driver:
None as of 30/11/10

Date last updated:

Due for review: March 2011

Group member responsible: TO


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