A key objective for Public View is to provide simple, accurate and fast insights into NHS organisations performance. As I commented in an earlier blog 'Why Public View', "data conflicts, inconsistencies and manual entry errors diminish confidence and often more time is spent debating the quality of the information than actually delivering change to patient services".
Hospital Episode Statistics
I also went on to comment that commercial Hospital Episode Statistics benchmarking tools often have these problems, as many NHS Trusts record the same things differently.
Public View is designed to provide irrefutable information, which allow NHS Leaders focus their energies on improving services, rather than checking the validity of data.
Unfortunately one of the public data sources is not of sufficient quality to do this.
A&E Clinical Quality Indicators
In the A&E Clinical Quality Indicator data set published yesterday only 57 of 134 Trusts had data that met the quality requirements for inclusion and even with those standards there are several questionable performance scores.
A deeper look into this data set shows that the original source is from Hospital Episode Statistics. This is the automated, unvalidated and non-audited data sets that all NHS trusts spew out for the purposes of 'research and planning'.
I am therefore removing the A&E - % Left without being seen indicator in order to not undermine NHS leaders confidence in the other data sources that are subject to a strict methodology, validation process and audit.
I hope that at some point in the future there will be much stricter processes and audits into the creation and use of Hospital Episode Statistics. They offer so much potential for providing brilliant insights to help design and improve services. Unfortunately due to the varied recording methodologies this is not possible and one risks being misinformed without very careful use.
A Long Jump
This reminds me of a story I heard about Lynn Davis, 1968 Olympic Gold Medallist in the long jump for Great Britain. The story goes that a rival had studied videos of Lynn to see what he was doing differently in order to improve own performance. He noticed an unusual arm movement that he felt must be the answer. So set about spending the whole year adopting that technique.
At the world championships the same rival noticed that Lynn no longer had the unusual arm movement and approached to understand why. Lynn responded that he had spent the whole year working to remove that arm movement as it was holding him back.
For me this story is a reminder that we must be careful when trying to interpret incomplete information, you could end up putting in a lot of work into something that actually makes things worse.
Accuracy is critical to Public View. Without accuracy NHS leaders could easily be misled to pursue a course of action which may be ultimately detrimental to patients.
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