Medics lead in data game

By Robin Stride

Consultants are doing better than hospitals in the race to publish private performance data ordered by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

They have been congratulated for making good progress while many of the places they work at have lagged behind.

Over 10,000 consultants have been invited to begin checking their data and providing feedback on data quality, with over 3,000 doing so in the first few weeks.

The Private Healthcare Inform­ation Network (PHIN) online portal has been described by Independent Doctors Federation president Dr Brian O’Connor as ‘a superb opportunity’ for consultant to showcase their clinical expertise and excellence’.

Matt James 4 web

Matt James

It appears hundreds of specialists have taken this on board and the data publisher described this as encouraging and ‘well ahead of expectations’. It said it had so far received generally positive and actionable feedback to date.

PHIN is due to publish the first performance measures for individual consultants in private practice this summer, with fees information following from next year.

Chief executive Matt James said, however, that it had taken hospitals ‘a while to get started’ and it was not yet ready to publish statistical results.

PHIN chairman Dr Andrew Vallance-Owen said just over 80 hospitals had shown some form of participation, ‘but more needs to be done.’

Andrew Vallance-Owen

Andrew Vallance-Owen

The organisation last month tried to encourage greater participation by revealing the private healthcare providers making the most progress toward being able to publish measures of the imp­rovement patients experienced from common types of surgery.

Spire Hospitals lead the way with five hospitals making ‘good progress’ in collecting and providing health outcomes data, and a further 31 having started the process.

PHIN said The Spire Leicester Hospital had helped the highest number of private patients (137) to complete health questionnaires before undergoing common procedures, with a postoperative questionnaire enabling assessment of the benefit delivered.

Circle Health had begun reporting health outcomes at its three sites, collecting and providing outcomes data for 20% of all eligible procedures. PHIN’s website rated these hospitals as ‘Good’ for participation in outcomes measurement, an interim assessment in lieu of full results.

The Robert Jones and Agnes Hunt Orthopaedic Hospital, a specialist orthopaedic NHS hospital which treats private patients, was also praised for collecting and providing data from the highest proportion of eligible patients (28%), although PHIN added: ‘But, due to the lack of postoperative questionnaires, they currently appear on PHIN’s website as having made “Some” progress.’

Mr James said: ‘Health outcome measures help patients to understand the extent to which they might benefit from surgery, for example, through reduced pain or increased mobility.

‘We have an ambitious programme of outcomes measures potentially covering 13 common procedures. It has taken the hospitals a while to get started, and we’re not yet ready to publish statistical results, but we want to recognise those hospitals that are making good progress and, hopefully, encourage others to do the same.’

The NHS has two mandatory outcome measures, for planned hip and knee replacements, and typically more than 50% of patients complete both questionnaires, PHIN said.

All hospitals treating private patients are required to collect data and report health outcomes for 13 common procedures to PHIN if they treat enough patients to have the potential to produce valid statistical results.

Former surgeon Dr Vallance-Owen said: ‘Everything that PHIN does builds toward better information for patients and greater transparency in private healthcare.

‘I have always strongly advocated measuring health outcomes as a tool for listening to patient feedback and improving clinical care. With over 80 hospitals showing some form of participation, it is clear that progress is being made, but more needs to be done.’