The Department of Health is to add metrics on digital transformation, integrated health and care and seven-day services to its My NHS website.
The NHS has been tasked with opening up its data for public scrutiny – Photo credit: Flickr
The website, which is part of NHS Choices, was launched in beta in September 2014 and aims to increase transparency in the health service and improve performance by opening up datasets to the public.
In a letter to health secretary Jeremy Hunt, John Newton, the interim chairman of the National Information Board – which is responsible for NHS data and technology and oversees My NHS – set out proposals for improvements to the site over the coming months.
This included “firm plans” to add metrics on seven day services, digital transformation, integrated health and social care, cancer, GPs, clinical commissioning groups, hospital efficiency and home care. Newton said that this would start in the summer with hospital data.
He also said that the work done to identify which sets to add in had highlighted missing or poor quality data, with data on community services and social care being “generally weak and frequently incomplete”.
However, Newton said, “we should not automatically press for new data collections to fill perceived gaps”.
He added: “The aim should be to use existing data better wherever possible, without imposing new burdens on the health and care system. Mobilising information already within the system to answer our needs should be the first priority.”
Netwon also said that the site was due for a “major refresh” during the summer, and that there would also be a programme of direct engagement with the people who use the site. This would help to tailor it to users’ needs, promote understanding of the site and develop a network of champions for what is described as intelligent transparency.
He said that this process should start with leaders and decision-makers – planners, commissioners and board members, local government, social care providers and the voluntary sector.
In his response, Hunt said that life sciences minister George Freeman had already written to a range of experts to ask what the NHS’ key interventions should be and would be holding a round table to gather expert opinion during the summer.
The exchange is the first of an annual communication between the health secretary and the National Information Board, which is part of a commitment to be open about changes planned for the site and data within the NHS.