Information will analyse treatment trends to help plan future health services
For the first time, the NHS in England has announced it will begin collecting data on patient care from GPs across the country.
Information is already collected from hospital trusts, but this is now being extended to general practices so that a more-accurate picture of patient services is available.
Leaflets explaining the scheme are currently being sent to more than 26.5 million households, reassuring patients that their personal details will not normally be shared outside of the NHS, only with approved medical researchers in special circumstances.
The data, which will be collated by the NHS Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC), can offer a picture of the illnesses patients have, their treatments and experiences. Analysing these trends can help plan health services in the future at national and local levels.
Dr Mark Davies, medical director at the HSCIC said the centre was a ‘safe haven’ for data.
"We want everyone to feel confident that their information is kept private and used in non-identifiable form to improve the quality of health and social care for everyone.
GP-led clinical commissioning groups are currently responsible for determining where approximately £80billion of the NHS budget is spent so it is vital that GP data is more effectively utilised
"Equally important is that everyone knows that they have a choice and can raise an objection by simply talking to their GP."
Dr Geraint Lewis, chief data officer at NHS England, added: "The NHS has been collecting information like this from hospitals for decades, but until now we've been missing information about the quality of care provided outside hospital.
"This initiative is about upgrading our information systems to get a more complete picture of the quality of care being delivered across all parts of the NHS and social care."
And Dr Imran Rafi of the Royal College of GPs said: "It is important that patients understand how the NHS uses and shares their information and that they feel they have been given a proper choice to participate. The spin-off is the potential for all NHS patients to benefit."
Speaking to BBH this week, Prahlad Koti, head of government and health at enterprise application specialist, Mastek, said the move was vitally important to ensuring best value services in the future.
He added: “GP-led clinical commissioning groups are currently responsible for determining where approximately £80billion of the NHS budget is spent so it is vital that GP data is more effectively utilised.
The NHS has been collecting information like this from hospitals for decades, but until now we've been missing information about the quality of care provided outside hospital
Having access to patient data from primary as well as the current secondary care providers will allow practitioners to make sure that NHS money goes further by identifying services such as dermatology and scans, which are currently being delivered in secondary care, but could be provided in the community. It will also empower healthcare providers to much earlier identify specific health needs or outbreaks of certain diseases and, in doing so, improve the patient experience as well as reduce cost.
“Incorporating GP data into existing intelligence expands the current good practice and builds on existing measures using Hospital Episode Statistics and the Secondary User Service. It will also ensure that the NHS can start to gain a better understanding of trends and identify exceptions at an earlier stage. However, to ensure the completeness of data, the next step for the NHS will be to include data from local authorities and social care organisations to guarantee that the organisation can continue improving care in the long-term."