Commissioners will be better able to obtain and use patient data from 2017, the chief executive of the Health and Social Care Information Centre has told HSJ.

  • HSCIC chief executive says there is a “challenge” around commissioners sharing data
  • Body is working with NHS England on plans to improve data flow from 2017
  • Andy Williams says problems with e-Referrals “largely fixed”

Andy Williams said the informatics and data body was working with NHS England to ensure that flows of anonymised and pseudonymised data would be “rationalised” so that information could be more quickly used by commissioners.

The arm’s length body is also developing a set of technology standards to enable software platforms used by social care providers to be better integrated with those used in healthcare, Mr Williams said.

He added that the technical problems encountered by early users of the e-Referral service, which replaced Choose and Book, are now “largely fixed”.

Andy Williams Chief Executive of the HSCIC

The work will mean ‘better flows of data to commissioners’, Andy Williams said

Mr Williams outlined how the body was working to help realise the health service’s technology and data sharing ambitions. He said: “I think we do still have a challenge around sharing of data in the commissioning space in particular.

“We are working in conjunction with NHS England as part of the data agenda on a new way of delivering data for commissioning. The first part of that is going to be live in 2017.

“We are trying to rationalise the data flows as commissioners at the moment get data from a whole range of places and many commissioners duplicate the way in which they do that.”

Mr Williams added: “We’re trying to arrange for where those duplications exist that they happen once nationally – so the data comes to us and then flows back to them on a technology platform that allows them to make much more sense of it for commissioning purposes.

“What this is all about is getting better flows of data to commissioners, but either anonymising it or pseudonymising it in a way that means you can’t be identified. There’s a big programme of work underway on that.”

Outlining the state of current technological capability in the health service, Mr Williams said: “I think we are in an OK place when it comes to standards and interoperability but what the Five Year Forward View and the new models of care bring to the forefront is that we need to be much better.

On the work being done to better enable providers of health and social care to share data with each other, Mr Williams said “There’s quite a lot of work we are doing working with the Department of Health on initiatives to join up information”.

He added: “We’re looking now at how standards can work, not just across health but across social care, while being sensitive to the fact that social care is run separately and operated through local government.”