Bid to give doctors confidence in performance data accuracy

By Robin Stride

New pilot studies aim to help align NHS and private care data and give consultants more confidence in their accuracy.

Specialists’ biggest area of concern about publication of comprehensive quality information so far has been the reliability of procedures attributed to them, particularly within the NHS activity data.

A spokesman for the Private Healthcare Information Network (PHIN) said: ‘This has been a sticking point for a number of consultants wanting to verify their PHIN measures.

‘We have listened to and taken on board these concerns and will be using the pilots to better understand where this is falling short and how it can be improved so that consultants have greater confidence in the data in the future.’

The NHS Digital and the PHIN pilots are part of a programme that will see data on privately-funded care from independent hospitals collected by the NHS for the first time.

‘Whole-practice’ information

If successful, PHIN says they will pave the way for a comprehensive national dataset of public and private hospital data in England, facilitating the production of ‘whole-practice’ information for doctors and hospitals providing both NHS and private care.

The need for such information was highlighted by the independent inquiry into rogue breast surgeon Ian Paterson, who provided unsanctioned and unnecessary treatment to patients in both NHS and private hospitals.

The pilots are part of the Acute Data Alignment Programme (ADAPt), initiated by the Health Secretary in 2018 and led jointly by NHS Digital, the information authority for the NHS in England, and PHIN, the government-mandated ‘information organisation’ for private healthcare.

The ADAPt pilots will test the technical changes needed to transfer the collection of private admitted patient data from PHIN to NHS Digital. This data will be fed onto PHIN to facilitate the publication of whole-practice performance measures for hospitals and consultants offering private healthcare services, in line with the Competition and Market Authority’s (CMA) Private Healthcare Market Investigation Order 2014.

PHIN said it was envisaged that the national dataset will be made available through the NHS Digital to regulators and public bodies to assist monitoring of safety and help drive service improvement.

Jem Rashbass, executive director of data services at NHS Digital, said there was a desire for a joined-up approach to data in public and private healthcare and the pilots would be the next step to achieve that.

Volunteer independent hospitals and NHS sites that offer private healthcare services who are interested in taking part in the pilots can register their interests by emailing