Public Source NHS Data sets are the truth

When each organisation publishes their data for the world to see, they are telling everyone "this is our performance".

There may be mistakes, human errors, incorrect interpretations but fundamentally there is truth in this data.

If you say that your performance is "x" but actually it is "y", the world will judge you on "y", therefore you must correct or improve either the service or the metric, you can't ignore it. That is why these data sets exist.

Private Data

When reviewing information from internal sources it is all too easy to focus on how you are unique, and to explain why comparisons don't apply.

Hospital Episode Statistics

Even when using commercial Hospital Episode Statistics bench-marking tools, many NHS Trusts record the same things differently. Because of this, hospital leaders may well spend more time discovering if something is really comparable instead of acting on what it is saying.

Public View Data

But with public data, things are different.

It's Public!

If you tell the world that your infection rate is x% and everyone else is doing better, you have identified a problem which you're fairly likely to have to correct.

It's Consistent

Knowing that every bit of data is subject to a strict methodology and validation process gives great confidence, gives the ability to directly compare your metrics with those of others.

Everyone has to report:

  • the same things
  • for the same time period
  • to the same rules
  • in the same format
  • at the same time

This means that I can compare "truth" across all organisations. I can see if my performance is within normal ranges, is excellent, or something to be concerned about. I can also see which organisations I might be able to learn some best practice lessons from, and who has been on the type of improvement journey that I want for my services.