Why is high quality information important in the NHS?

by Rodianne Williams, Marketing Executive

Hospitals within the NHS are continuously searching for ways to improve quality of care  and promote effective quality improvement strategies. Essential elements of a successful strategy include developing the right culture, attracting and retaining the right people, devising and updating the right in-house processes, and giving staff the right tools to do the job. However, all of these elements cannot be attained without having high quality information.

The NHS holds information and data on every one of its patients. This may be demographic information, such as details of a patient's name, address, gender, date of birth etc, or clinical information related to a patient's medical care history. This information is held as either paper or computerised records and is used to support decisions made by the patient and the healthcare professionals looking after the patient, to make sure that the healthcare service being offered is safe and effective.

But, what does ‘high quality information’ really mean? High quality information refers to accurate, up-to-date, accessible and free from duplication and fragmentation. If patient information is not correct and up-to-date, there could be consequences to patient care and safety. For example, if a patient had recently moved house, but their records contained an old address, there could be problems in contacting that patient to arrange a necessary appointment. That patient could then experience delays in receiving essential treatment. Doctors, nurses and others need to be able to rely on the accuracy of information available in order to be able to provide timely and effective treatment for a patient.

Accurate and reliable health care data is required for determining the continuation and future care of a patient at all levels of health care. Having the correct data ensures the right information for medico-legal purposes for the patient, the doctor and the health care service. It’s crucial for having reliable information about diseases treated and surgical procedures performed in a hospital and within a community, as well as immunisation and screening programmes, including the number and type of participants. Complete statistical information is also helpful when dealing with research, monitoring the outcomes of healthcare interventions and getting to know about the uses of health care services within a community. Moreover, data determines the best teaching methods for health care professionals, working out staffing requirements and planning health care services.

All NHS trusts have a responsibility to ensure their data is accurate and fit for purpose, ready for migration to the national systems. NHS organisations can also explain to patients why it is important that they identify themselves in a consistent way when they use NHS services – for example, asking a person called William, who is sometimes also known as Bill, to give the same form of his name each time.

Having high quality information available will mean that clinicians have greater levels of confidence that they are advising patients about the best care for them on the basis of accurate, up to date, complete information. In exceptional circumstances, such as in the case of an accident and emergency clinician treating an unconscious patient, clinicians can have greater confidence in the treatment decisions they make on behalf of patients. Quality data, on demand, means that doctors and nurses can spend more time treating patients and less time searching, waiting for, and checking patient information.

About CareSolutions™:

CareSolutions™ is a powerful data management and processing engine to enhance your information management environment. The solution is the perfect package for any Trust requiring a simple but effective means to achieve fast and reliable results focusing on data quality and integrity. Our solution consists of a powerful data management engine with extensive data quality applied to the data in its path from beginning to end. The end result is instantly accessible and reliable data available for the executive team and information and business analysts to report on.

We are always ready to providing the required guidance to help hospitals move in the right direction. For more information visit our solutions page.