Orange coloured cars breakdown less often. People buy more pop tarts before a hurricane. If, like me, you’re thinking why and trying to come up with possible explanations, don’t bother.
‘Some people believe that the more data we have, the better informed the commissioning’
According to Big Data, a new book by Viktor Mayer-Schonberger and Kenneth Cukier, it doesn’t matter why. We waste a lot of time delving into explanations when we should be focusing on the facts, figures and patterns of behaviour. Today we have the ability to collect a previously unimaginable amount of data on human behaviour and using computers it is easy to spot the patterns. So if you know there is a hurricane on the way, order in more pop tarts.
So if I am running a supermarket in a hurricane zone I can see it would be useful to be able to predict demand. Extending the general principle, I can see how supermarket loyalty cards can generate a massive volume of data on shoppers’ purchasing habits which can give almost instant feedback on what I should order more or less of.
For those who are always keen to apply commercial sector business models to the public sector, how could this one be applied to commissioning health and social care services?
This is what the budget looks like
Commissioning health and social care services for older people would involve commissioning services for people who have dementia. Which services do we want more off, how much more and are there any we want less of? It is easy to see how this could be reduced to numbers.
In your commissioning area what will be the rise in the number of older people over the next five years? If one in five people over 80 have dementia, how many people will require support from dementia services? If 80 per cent of beds in homes for older people are occupied by people who have dementia who many beds will be need in five years time?
‘In reality most commissioning decisions are finance driven, so it’s not a question of how much do we need but what can we afford’
This has led some to believe that the more data we have, the better informed the commissioning. So how many older people are living alone; how many are living in sheltered housing; how many have regular support from family; how many have an occupational pension; how many are claiming state benefits?
Commissioning health and social care services is only partially about the facts, figures and patterns of behaviour. Commissioners don’t just react: they determine. Rather than plan for more hospital beds and more places in care homes, they can say we intend to shift the balance of care to supporting a greater proportion of people at home so we will commission more home care services; we will expect families to take on more care responsibilities; we will fund more community nursing services; we will expand sheltered house into very sheltered housing; we will redefine the eligibility criteria for support services and restrict it to those with a sever disability.
In reality most commissioning decisions are finance driven: this is what the budget looks like for the next five years it will not keep pace with the growth in the number of older people; so it’s not a question of how much do we need but what can we afford.