- Posted Tuesday July 2, 2019
Data often experiences a mixed reception in Primary Care, either seen as the silver-bullet antidote to all problems, or ill-famed as that which dehumanises healthcare.
Embracing data to empower informed decision-making lies at the heart of the NHS Long Term Plan, but how can business intelligence tools really release time to retain a patient-first focus?
Accurate, real-time data is a powerful tool when put to work in the correct form to facilitate service enhancement and track quality improvement, allowing service providers to take ownership of the future landscape.
Dr Helena Ebbs, Partner GP at Pickering Medical Centre – recently featured in a BBC News feature after a drastic improvement in patient access through the NHS England Time For Care scheme – has praised the power of data, which underpinned the practice’s journey to releasing appointments.
Pickering Medical Practice accessed data via Edenbridge Healthcare’s Apex tool throughout the scheme and Dr Ebbs reflects: “Apex cannot tell you what questions to ask. You need to do that, and when you do Apex can give you the answers. Our question was, ‘How do we fix our appointment system?’ And we used Apex to monitor how we did that.
“Moving away from data to appraising outcomes makes it much more relatable. People perceive that data dehumanises Primary Care, but, if used to drive outcomes, data frees up time to focus on humans.”
Oftentimes business intelligence tools are seen as yet another tool, meaning yet more time must be carved out in the diary and one more job is added to the to-do list. Yet advancements in business intelligence tools for Primary Care are eliminating the burden of onerous searches and reports, presenting data in intuitive models for users to focus on the quality of service delivery.
Dr Ebbs adds: “At our practice meetings every Tuesday we check wait times, if it isn’t OK we can respond effectively, like adding more slots in. It also highlights issues we might not have spotted otherwise.
“I spoke to a group of North West practices and they were reviewing waiting times weekly. They reacted as soon as the waiting time was over 10 days. This was a good measure as to whether the system was under pressure.”
As scrutiny intensifies, meaningful data analysis places all control in the hands of frontline service providers to paint the future of Primary Care.
Dr Ebbs encourages practices, saying: “We use data to measure quality performance as well as defining and measuring pilot schemes.
“This is your data to use as you want and it is live. If GP practices and PCNs are reliant on other people’s data they cannot guarantee speed, efficiency and accuracy.
“Stop being measured by others. Measure yourself.”
Allison Homer is Managing Director of Edenbridge Healthcare, supplying a suite of business intelligence tools to Primary Care, their flagship Apex software was written with the purpose of making patients lives better through the provision of tools to clinical staff to aid service redesign.