SummaryI am a lapsed pharma marketer and as such I still like to read the industry press. It is striking that almost every article is about how the industry has to change to meet the needs of the NHS, to add value.
So what does value mean to the NHS? Some data like the lovely stuff I used to get when I was a brand manager, data that was all sorted out and accepted by the finance director. Some data that I could turn into information and develop strategies with which made me look like a fancy pants marketer.
Data Data Data
Or did I mean information, information, information. The whole of the NHS is dominated by the subject. PBCs generally are starved of good information, PCTs may well have lots of data but struggle to turn it into something of useful.
Its all so complicated you see, no one really has a good grasp of what to do. I have been working as a commissioner for a little while and struggle to get hold of good information. The act of commissioning in theory is simple: establish what is happening at the moment and then look at options for improving the service for patients and the tax payer. The reality has proved anything but simple. I have had conversations with people about SQL (language used for interrogating databases), I have talked about ICD 10 codes, OPCS codes, HRG codes, weather or not we should be using ‘spells’ of ‘finished consultant episodes’, weather we should measure patients registered in the PCT or treated in the PCT or both. I have had to question everybody supplying me data because everyone is giving me different answers. The finance boys have estimated numbers of patients at three times higher than the analysts who wrote the ‘Health Needs Assessment’. Using my razor mind I decided to cross check the SUS (hospital) data with GPs data…
“You need to phone “what his face in” information he will be able to help”
“Sorry we are still working on that problem, you see GP systems record data differently to hospitals and on top of that there are several GP systems”
The problem is that commissioners have to get it right. Just imaging commissioning a new service for 500 patients and a 1000 turn up. Picture the poor patient sat there having an emergency because his chronic illness is really hurting or he can’t breathe properly. So he phones the “interim service”, as he was told to by the nice nurse, but no one is answering. Just imagine the feeling of being out of control as dark floods of panic slowly well up from the pit of your stomach.
“Call the ambulance love I can’t take this anymore”
So what does value mean to the NHS? How about something that pharma does brilliantly, managing and making sense of large amounts of data and turning it into reliable, consistent information.