By Robin Stride
Performance measures for the first batch of 1,000 consultants to be featured on an official website for all to see were set to at last go live as Independent Practitioner Today went to press.
Publication marks a notable shift in openness in private healthcare and is a milestone for the Private Healthcare Information Network (PHIN) which was forced to delay its original plans over the summer.
Efforts to show ‘a meaningful set’ of performance information for a minimum of 1,000 consultants by the end of July were foiled by what it called ‘technological challenges with our platform’.
Some consultants were unable to review and approve their measures as a result, so PHIN fell short of its four-figure target before the holiday period. It was twice forced to extend the data validation window by several weeks.
Chief executive Matt James told specialists after the initial delay: ‘We take responsibility for this and apologise for the frustration which a number of consultants have experienced.’
More consultants were still needed to give the all-clear earlier this month, but the number was said to be ‘very close’ to triggering an Autumn live launch.
With nearly 5,000 consultants having logged in to PHIN’s portal to check information provided by private hospitals, correct errors and give feedback, a spokesman for the data body paid tribute to the doctors involved.
He said: ‘All systems are now “go”. We are starting to see a notable shift in the medical profession towards embracing transparency and this is an indicator to that.
‘We want to thank those leading consultants who are signing up to it and encouraging others to sign up too.
‘And we want to encourage other leading doctors to engage in the process, review their data and look to improve the data available on healthcare.’
Mr James said: ‘There has been a huge, positive shift from the sector towards greater transparency, and we are thankful to those consultants who have supported this process already.’
Mr James said his organisation would continue working with hospitals and consultant bodies to ensure all consultants with a private practice supported the initiative.
PHIN said it recognised the project so far was a unique process of reviewing and validating data covering over 750,000 episodes of admitted care delivered across the UK each year, and this would take time to get right.
The project is working towards publishing performance data for all the estimated 14,000 consultants admitting patients privately. Measures range from patient satisfaction and reported outcomes through to adverse event rates.
Next year, PHIN aims to publish fee information for a wider group of consultants, including those who see only outpatients.
PHIN was tasked with its work following a long-running private healthcare inquiry by the Competition and Markets Authority.