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Stop wasting money on innaccurate data

So it appears the NHS has not been inappropriately discharging patients at night – despite the furore created by recent press reports. The problem was inaccurate data, not little old ladies being pitched out into the freezing dark.

But it would be a foolish NHS leader who breathed a sigh of relief. The long-awaited information strategy stresses the key role of data in providing safe, responsive and efficient healthcare. Yet, here were trusts spending money on data that was inaccurate in, at least, one key respect.

One HSJ reader commented in response to this story: “information management isn’t sexy, so people refuse to engage with or properly understand it”. That is unfair to many – but generally true.

It is inaccurate data, rather than confidentiality or access issues, that will be the biggest drag on moving the NHS into the information age. Leaders must do more to ensure data they use to make decisions is not misleading.

Readers' comments (4)

  • The same issue prevails when it comes to validating SUS data. AIV and SLAM processes have been used by PCTs and Commercial Organisations for years, but have never referenced the referral and discharge infomation held in GP clinical system, because of the time and complexity. This ommits to identify both gaming and genuine errors which will cost CCGs a substantial proportion of their budgets unless this is addressed. iQV (Intelligent Validation) is and automated solution.

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  • Inaccurate data is so not the story here. A journalist who clearly had no understanding of NHS data had a bright idea, asked a question, got the answer, drew an unwarranted conclusion and published a completely inaccurate scare story. If they'd bothered to check their logic with anyone who did understand NHS data that unwarranted conclusion would have been nipped in the bud... But I guess that wouldn't have sold many papers.

    Perhaps you could shine some of that editorial spotlight on journalist practices, their understanding of data and analysis or even the nominal cost to the NHS of the pointless activity generated from all those knees which jerked in the wake of this story.

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  • Inaccurate data is precisely the problem here! A hospital allowed inaccurate data to enter a data set which was then shared and analysed. The meaning of the data item is entirely clear. The fact that the Trust was incapable of recording it accuratly is down to the Trust not the jounalist

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  • And what about inaccurate spelling?

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