Professor John Williams, director of the RCP’s Health Informatics Unit opened the presentations and talked to the theme ‘The Story So Far’ noting that we had not yet developed our collection of routine data generated in practice to the point where it is useful clinically, for research or for audit. He sated this with particular reference to the Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) datasets and to the Welsh equivalent, Patient Episode Database Wales (PEDW).
These datasets were not, he said, suitable for clinical purposes – they were too limited and insufficiently validated. Neither are they suitable for national audit in his opinion, however, they might be used for population level studies. He addressed the root causes of these inadequacies and we will try to bring you some detail on this next week – one of the developments he backed was clinician engagement in improving data quality in the NHS – which put your blogger in mind of the EHI campaign championing the idea of the role of Chief Clinical Information Officer.
He adduced a few of the RCP’s reports (the Hospital Activity Guide and Query Methodology) – again more detail and links to the PDFs to come soon – and asserted that Information Departments in NHS Trusts tend to focus on the needs of the organisation rather than those of the clinicians and patients.
Again mentioning HES, he suggested that more than there being room for improvement, there was a need for a “radical change to the dataset” in order to make it integral to the processes of care. Again, he adduced several studies and projects initiated by the RCP addressing the improvement of data quality in the NHS which we will bring you further detail on ASAP!