Federating data in health and social care has been difficult to achieve. But this is all changing. With advanced data sharing and a single source of truth, NHS organisations are innovating like never before

The future is uncertain for healthcare leaders. Many NHS organisations have gone through a significant restructuring period, leading to projects and programmes being stalled.

But, despite this, there are reasons to be hopeful – particularly where data is concerned.

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Indeed, some NHS organisations have already delivered groundbreaking solutions to improve population health and care coordination and reduce elective care backlogs. These innovative organisations not only leverage the power of GP data to deliver a complete system view of care but also actively reduce patient wait times and service delivery pressures.

In these organisations, data is now in the hands of clinical decision makers across the system, enabling early intervention and care plan changes. We’re seeing true data democratisation that empowers both clinicians and patients.

But to understand how these organisations have got to where they are today, it’s first important to understand what it takes to federate and democratise data across a multifaceted ecosystem like an NHS integrated care system.

Supporting all data types across the healthcare ecosystem

From primary and secondary care to community health and third sector organisations, access to good-quality, current data is key to delivering positive patient outcomes and boosting efficiency.

Consider your first point of contact when accessing a healthcare service. It’s very rarely straight in at the deep end (apart from the relatively rare times you need accident and emergency); rather, it’s when you see your GP or a third-party service, such as a charity or mental health services provider.

So, when we think about the referrals process to a hospital for surgery, having the whole patient picture – from body mass index to ethnicity – from across organisations and departments, can help address health inequalities.

In fact, taking direct patient intervention based on a complete view of patient data is proven to boost post-operative outcomes four-fold.

And that’s not to mention the efficiency gains to the NHS, where a single point of truth for data can eliminate duplicated or contradictory data, reducing bottlenecks and helping free waiting lists.

The importance of data sharing

Joined-up care – which includes collaboration with partner agencies, such as the police – is only made possible through seamless data sharing. Systems that use application programming interfaces to share data can create further data silos and insecure data. Modern data sharing needs a single platform that can integrate with multiple databases in real time, accurately and securely.

For data sharing to truly succeed, the technology must be easy to adopt. And with around 80 per cent of healthcare data now in unstructured formats, such as clinicians’ notes and images, the solution is to have a robust, governable and secure data platform that can support all data types.

Democratising data for caregivers and patients

For one NHS ICS using Snowflake, democratising its data has meant radical changes in how it uses its newly democratised data in Snowflake to deliver early-stage patient symptom identification. It now means clinicians can take swift action to prevent more serious diseases and conditions from ever occurring.

Federated data for life

Snowflake’s platform has brought data federation to life for several health and social care organisations. By using Snowflake’s near-real-time reporting to improve patient outcomes and predict bottlenecks before they occur, some NHS organisations have achieved a state of democratised data for all that improves caregiver efficiency, saves costs, and above all, transforms patient outcomes.

To find out more about Snowflake’s healthcare solutions for data,join us for HSJ’s webinar, Federating health and social care data to improve population health on 26 March, 10.30am - 11.15am.