Why clinical insights, not budgets, hold the key to value-based healthcare


Right now, National Health Service (NHS) managers and clinicians in the UK are under phenomenal pressure to find big efficiency savings while improving the value of services to patients. Many in the NHS see integrated care as the answer. But the first step is finding innovative ways to increase the value we deliver in all clinical and commissioning decisions. The question is: How? NHS

Well, consider this: Every single thought, action, treatment plan, decision and interaction generates some form of data. The answers NHS leaders need are likely sitting in the masses of patient records, emails, discharge letters, scans and patient notes that litter every clinician’s in-tray and inbox.

The challenge is collating that data in a meaningful, structured manner that makes it readily accessible to decision-makers --  while protecting individual patient's privacy. But that’s just the beginning. Only when a clean data repository has been created, in which different types of information have been translated into digital formats, can decision makers extract the answers they need. Using sophisticated methods that allow them to easily model treatment outcomes for different patient groups, clinicians and managers can gain transformational answers. They can then evaluate investments versus the value of potential outcomes; investigate the efficacy of different management plans; predict demand, and answer many other questions.

Only by using these outputs can NHS leaders make decisions of real value. Why? Because only then will the wisdom and experience of clinicians and senior management be further substantiated by solid evidence.

Case in point: Heart and lung specialist care

The Royal Brompton & Harefield Foundation Trust is a great example – showing how big data can be transformed into decisions and actions that deliver real value. As a specialist heart and lung centre, the Trust had accumulated vast quantities of clinical data over many years. The problem was that it was spread across more than 400 data systems and 20 critical clinical data sets.

What Chief Clinical Information Officer, Cliff Morgan, and CIO, Joanna Smith, wanted to do was capitalise on this wealth of information to deliver services better suited to the individual needs of each patient. They knew that making decisions based on all available data was essential in achieving this goal – and they came to SAS for the necessary analytic support.

What happened?

We built a Clinical Data Warehouse (CDW) for the Trust, creating a central store of all data, and built a layer of privacy over the top to maintain patient confidentiality and privacy.

Using our analytics tools, clinicians can now interrogate this data pool to reveal correlations that were previously unknown. Before our solution went live, if a cardiologist wanted to assess something, like the relationship between prescribing certain antibiotics and the outcome, the cardiologist would have needed three or four junior doctors to review some 400 case notes on paper! Now the hospital can perform such analyses in less than five minutes.

In future…

The evidence that SAS analytics can deliver will add further value in decision-making, allowing clinical leaders to help prevent diseases as well as cure them, finding new ways to integrate care and delivering it in a patient-centric way. Our analytics can help you take the first step on the journey to fulfill the Five Year Forward View, which looks at how the health service needs to change over the next five years if it's to close the widening gaps in the health of the population, quality of care and the funding of services.

Find out more on our Integrated Care Insight Hub.


About Author

David Downing

Central Government and Healthcare Director, SAS UK

David has been working with the public sector for over 15 years, building technology based partnerships focused on client and citizen value. He's experienced in the challenges of IT transformation. David was previously Director of Health at SAS UK, focusing on how SAS can enable improved health outcomes and reduce costs across the NHS. His responsibilities included solution development, demand creation, development of go-to-market strategy and building proof of value and strategic partnerships. His role has been expanded to manage a team who focus on helping Central Government within the UK understand the value of the data it holds together with how to gain intelligent insight for informed decision making. David has a detailed understanding of the challenges across health and government and how analytics can transform citizen and patients.

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